It’s affectionately called the “Geek Gym.”
Viasat’s Innovation Lab, located at our Carlsbad, CA campus, is home to 3D printers, virtual reality (VR) equipment, micro controllers, and soldering tools. It’s all there with one express purpose: to spark creativity.
“The lab is where anyone at Viasat can experiment with new technologies,” said lab manager Deborah Chandran. “This is a place where people can explore proofs of concept, have fun, and possibly stumble upon something innovative that might have real-world applications.”
Sure enough, plenty of innovation happens in the lab. Recent projects include a drill press created by engineer Ivan Maric, who 3D-printed the press while waiting for the real thing to arrive from the manufacturer. In the three weeks it took for the drill press to ship, Maric’s printed prototype did the job.
Another employee created a car cup holder with circles that changed diameter to accommodate cups of all sizes.
“We encourage personal play here because that’s how innovation happens,” Chandran said.
On March 21, Chandran and her team invited all Carlsbad employees to visit the lab at an Innovation Lab open house.
Interested participants listened as Viasat engineers presented the lab’s equipment ranging from 3D printers to a soldering iron to VR software to tiny computers – Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s – used for prototyping. After the short show-and-tell, employees took advantage of the opportunity to play on the equipment themselves.
Employees can use the lab’s resources any time.
“The lab is open to all Viasat employees who want to explore technologies related to the company,” Chandran said. “We want to empower employees to innovate and maybe even discover the next new Viasat product or service.”
In the meantime, Chandran plans to introduce workshops designed to encourage the five behaviors of innovators: observing, questioning, associating, experimenting, and networking.
“We support participation at all levels,” Chandran said. “Our end goal is to facilitate awareness and interaction across all business areas in the pursuit of innovation.”