On Thursday, January 29, 2015, the College of Environmental Design opened their new Materials Store. Located at 277 Wurster Hall just before the entrance to the Fabrication Lab, the Material Store will serve as a one-stop shop for students within the College of Environmental Design. The new store will provide CED Students the opportunity to purchase materials needed for their projects such as wood, plastic, metal, and equipment. The materials are sourced locally from neighboring business such as Ashby Lumber and MacBeath Hardwood. These bulk contracted purchases allows the shop to keep its costs lower.
The store was born with both affordability and safety in mind. Shop manager Semar Prom explained that he was concerned students were purchasing and working with materials from unknown sources. “The students are bringing in stuff that might have some dangerous particulates so we wanted to create a safer environment for our students.”
The location of the store was also chosen in order to make more convenient the difficult transportation of large and heavy materials to the fabrication shop. “Having the material here and ready for the students when they need it. Sometimes some of these places they're not open after 4, 5 or on weekends because they cater to contractors who work at different schedules. Sometimes if they run out of material they don't have to go back out, they can just go to the store.”
Most importantly for the students, 60% of all profit made by the store will be given back to the CED student fee waiver program. The fee waiver program helps qualifying students cover the departmental material and shop fees that can run upwards of $12,000.
With its various innovation, it is no coincidence that the Materials Store was made possible by one of UC Berkeley’s Innovation Grants. The Materials Store was selected as one of the 2013 - 2014 recipients for the Division of Equity and Inclusion’s Innovation Grants. Innovation Grants, funded by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, are available to students, faculty, and staff, and are meant to encourage new and sustainable projects to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity at UC Berkeley. They are given each year to the best collaborative ideas for new and creative projects that create innovative ways to make UC Berkeley a more equitable and inclusive community.
At the Materials Store opening ceremony Vice Chancellor Gibor Basri commented on the ingenuity of the store and its utilization of the innovation grants. “This is not exactly what we had in mind when we came up with the Innovation Grants but it was also exactly what we had in mind.”