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New tech lab modernizes Illini Chabad

Co-director+of+the+outreach+and+student+programming+Rabbi+Mordy+Kurtz+tests+out+the+computers+in+the+new+technology+laboratory+at+the+Illini+Chabad.+The+laboratory+is+a+new+environment+for+students+and+community+members+who+are+looking+for+a+collaborative+space+to+study+and+learn.+It+is+equipped+with+desktop+computers%2C+printers%2C+and+televisions.
Co-director of the outreach and student programming Rabbi Mordy Kurtz tests out the computers in the new technology laboratory at the Illini Chabad. The laboratory is a new environment for students and community members who are looking for a collaborative space to study and learn. It is equipped with desktop computers, printers, and televisions.

Co-director of the outreach and student programming Rabbi Mordy Kurtz tests out the computers in the new technology laboratory at the Illini Chabad. The laboratory is a new environment for students and community members who are looking for a collaborative space to study and learn. It is equipped with desktop computers, printers, and televisions.

Nimisha Singh

Nimisha Singh

Co-director of the outreach and student programming Rabbi Mordy Kurtz tests out the computers in the new technology laboratory at the Illini Chabad. The laboratory is a new environment for students and community members who are looking for a collaborative space to study and learn. It is equipped with desktop computers, printers, and televisions.

By Aila Rahman, Staff Writer

Furnished with wooden, custom-made tables, a Macbook, two PCs, laptop stations and magnetic walls, a new tech lab is bringing the Illini Chabad into the 21st century.

“Every desk has an ethernet cable, a USB plug. We have high speed fiber optic internet. I was thinking 2017, what do students need,” said Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, co-director at Illini Chabad.  

There are three purposes to the tech lab. The lab is meant to encourage students to collaborate with each other, serve as a workspace, and provide career assistance. The tech lab will host one guest speaker a month to discuss entrepreneurship, leadership, resume building and job searching.

Starting next semester, the tech lab will launch Inova8, an internship program.

“It’s exciting on all three parts: the collaborative workspace, the social part and the Inova8 internship part,” Tiechtel said.

The lab was funded by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the family of Phil and Beverly Goldstick and Debbie and Ira Cohen. The idea was first suggested by College of Business alum Steven Mendes.

“Co-working spaces, such as WeWork, are changing the way we do business. (T)he future of work will be dynamic and not static,” Mendes said in an email.

Mendes also said the tech lab is a tool with which students can use to learn the craft of entrepreneurship.

“The tech lounge is the first step in getting incredible resources that are available through the University of Illinois and through the Chabad house,” he said.

Construction began after graduation in May 2017 and ended on Aug. 27 this semester.

Tiechtel said the alumni and donors reflect the Chabad’s vision.

“We built this lab in a way that should be very techy and warm,” he said. “Everything you see here from the wood walls, to the barn doors, to the custom made tables, to the coloring, gives students a home feeling. A warm feeling, a relaxed feeling.”

Illini Chabad is part of an international network of Chabad with 4,000 centers across the world.

“As a Jewish center, it’s an educational environment to help people be who they want to be on campus. We’re here to help students with their educational, social and religious needs,” Tiechtel said.

Ariel Shilitz, junior in Education, started getting more involved with Chabad last year. She soon became the head intern at the tech lab. Shilitz, along with five others, oversee the tech lab during certain hours of the week.

“The tech lab is a very calming place. I enjoy going there,” she said.

Her favorite aspect of the lab is the different environment it offers.

“This is a different place on campus, like it’s off of Green Street, kind of away from everything so you feel like you’re not even on campus with other students,” she said. “So it just gives me a place to relax, do my own work at my own pace and not have to worry about everybody surrounding me.”

Tiechtel also said the lab is a comfortable, relaxing environment.  

“There’s no better feeling than when I walk into Chabad at 11 p.m. and I see 10 to 15 students here doing work,” he said. “It’s beautiful, and they feel so comfortable. It’s a micro-community.”

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Correction: The article previously misspelled the Inova8 internship program. 

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