Loading Library Hours...

About Us

The IDEA Lab is a digital scholarship center bridging the gap between technologies, expertise, and community. Providing access to the latest emerging technologies for all faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the lab is home to Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies, high-end gaming computers, 3D printing, podcasting equipment, 3D scanners, and much more. Join us to discover, play, and innovate.

Meet Our Team
ELISANDRO CABADA  |  cabada@illinois.edu

Elisandro Cabada is an Assistant Professor and the Medical and Bioengineering Librarian at the Grainger Engineering Library where he leads the technology-rich IDEA Lab digital scholarship center. Elisandro holds faculty appointments in the University Library and in the engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine. His research interests include studying barriers to access, pedagogical affordances, and application of emerging and immersive technologies in research and instruction. He is a first generation American and college student and life-long Illini, having attended Illinois for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Elisandro is a mentor in the campus Health Maker Lab network where he provides guidance and expertise around emerging technologies for project awardees of the annual Health Make-a-Thon. Elisandro is also a 2021 recipient of the ALA RUSA Best Emerging Technology Application (BETA) Award.

Photo of Celenia Graves
CELENIA GRAVES | celeniag@illinois.edu

Celenia Graves leads comprehensive programming and outreach efforts in the IDEA Lab to help bridge the digital and technical divide by focusing on engagement efforts to underserved and underrepresented communities on campus and in the Champaign-Urbana area. Celenia has a background in education, metadata for special collections, and public librarianship. Their research interests include accessibility, user experience (UX) design, metadata, and website design. A University of North Texas (UNT) alumnus, Celenia received the Outstanding Student Award in Library and Information Science in 2019 and was a 2020 Golden Eagle Award Nominee. Celenia looks forward to extending their curiosity and love of learning into their role at the IDEA Lab. Their office is located in the Grainger IDEA Lab in Room 000H.

BECKY SMITH | becky@illinois.edu

Becky has been an academic business librarian for over three decades, assisting students, faculty, and alums in finding secondary data to support research, action learning projects, co-curricular programs, and to assist in fostering business development and independent job searching. Becky serves as the business collections strategist for the University Library and works in partnership with the Margolis Market Information Lab at the Gies College of Business.

STUART TURNER | slturne1@illinois.edu

Stuart Turner is the Coordinator of the IDEA Lab at the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center and is responsible for the lab’s day-to-day operations. He has been working with technology at the University of Illinois Urbana campus for 20 years with a wide-ranging array of expertise. His focus currently includes bringing VR/AR/XR systems into operational excellence. His focus for the lab is on bringing cutting-edge technologies into a sustainable and scalable operation within an enterprise environment. His interests include makerspaces, gaming (both digital and physical) and melding the two together. He also runs a small business called Print to Play Design, where he brings his makerspace experience to create board game enhancements from a digital model into physical form.

DIRK TON | dwton@illinois.edu

Dirk Ton is a recently came to UIUC from Indiana University, where he worked as the Wells Library Stacks Manager for 4 years and as a Circulation Supervisor for 6 years. He assisted in the renovation of the Lilly Rare Manuscripts Library, as well as numerous other large-scale projects within the IU Libraries. Originally a Purdue University graduate, Dirk has been pursuing research on the material cultures of ancient civilizations and ways to integrate 3D and digital archiving methods in material preservation. Recent work in digital visualization and 3D printing have been essential in his work on weapon reconstruction and material shape analysis. He is also an avid blacksmith and bladesmith. Dirk coordinates the maintenance and operations of the various IDEA Lab spaces and equipment. In this role, Dirk helps supervise the Lab Technicians in performing day-to-day operations, including assisting Lab patrons in accessing and utilizing the equipment they need.

Select Faculty Publications & Presentations

Cabada, Elisandro, Eric Kurt, and David Ward. 2020. “Constructing a Campus-Wide Infrastructure for Virtual Reality.” College & Undergraduate Libraries 27 (2–4): 281–304. doi:10.1080/10691316.2021.1881680.


Mischo, William H. and Cabada, Elisandro “Machine Learning Techniques for Performing Topic Modeling and Identification on Bibliographic Datasets”, CNI Fall Briefing, December 14, 2021, Washington DC.

Cabada, Elisandro. 2021. “Supporting Medical Education through Emerging Technologies and Innovation Services.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Health Science Librarians of Illinois, virtual, October 28.

Cabada, Elisandro. 2021. “The Application of 3D Printing Services in the Academic Library.” Professional Development Alliance webinar series, October 6 and 20.

Mischo, William H. and Cabada, Elisandro, “IDEA (Innovation, Discovery, DEsign, and DAta) Laboratory at the Grainger Engineering Library Information Center”, Lightning Talk at the American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Libraries Division, Virtual Annual Conference, July 26, 2021.

Mischo, WIlliam H. and Cabada, Elisandro, “Machine Learning for Text with Topic Modeling and Clustering”, presentation at the IDEA AI Institute IMLS Grant Workshop, University of Tennessee, July 14, 2021.

Our Partners

Health Maker Lab LogoVR Club LogoMaker Girl LogoIllini eSports Logo