Illini Gadget Garage
Website and/or Calendar Links
Launched with seed funding from the UI Student Sustainability Commitee (SSC), the Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative repair center for student and staff owned electronic devices, that works to:
- extend the useful life of products, and thus conserve the natural and human resources invested in their manufacture
- provide experiential learning for students through associated classes, volunteering, and participation in the iFixit Technical Writing Project
- empower people to see do-it-yourself repair as a viable option for addressing minor damage and performance issues
By “collaborative repair,” Illini Gadget Garage means that they’re there to help you help yourself! You don’t drop off electronics at the Gadget Garage for someone else to repair so you can pick them up later. You come in, tell them about your problem, and together you’ll sit down, do a little fiddling and Internet research, and work on getting your device back in working order. They’re combating the mainstream belief that electronics are too complex or expensive to repair by welcoming and assisting students and staff of all technical experience levels (including “zero,” “zilch,” “nada” and “none”) to “tinker” with their devices. Depending on the situation, activities may range from guidance on how to make your device run faster or install new software to hands-on repair and replacement of components. They don’t have replacement parts on hand, or currently sell those, but they’ll help you figure out if you need parts, what those are, and where you can get them. Then you can obtain those at a local shop or online and come back in when you’re ready to make the replacement so they can provide guidance and moral support! Or, if you’re comfortable with doing it on your own at that point, that’s cool too.
By “electronic devices,” they mean all the typical items this phrase brings to mind, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc., AND other small appliances and common household devices with electronic components. Stop and think about it for a minute–we’re surrounded by items with electronics integrated into them. Even greeting cards can have sound cards inside them to play music or record messages. Illini Gadget Garage believes all items with electronic components should last, and not be seen as disposable. They can’t guarantee that they can show you how to fix everything you bring in, but if you can carry it in and it has an electronic component, they’ll definitely give it a try! And hopefully, you’ll have fun together doing it. If the required repair or maintenance seems beyond their capability, they’ll help you find local repair shops that can help (Note that they do not make endorsements or specific recommendations–they just help you help yourself. The decision about which, if any, local repair business to take your device to is ultimately yours alone.). If your device is sadly beyond repair, they’ll help you find local recycling options.
Who is Involved with the Gadget Garge?
The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaboration of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the UI School of Art and Design, and the School of Information Science (The iSchool at Illinois). Staff from these units provide support and guidance. The project is administered/coordinated by ISTC. THey have a few paid staff members, but they rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers. Check out the Meet the Advisers, Meet the Staff, and Meet the Volunteers pages.
Gadget Garage serves students, staff, and faculty on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and their services are free for these groups (we’ll verify your affiliation via your i-Card, campus directory, or similar means). They also offer “pop-up” repair clinics beyond the UIUC campus, either as community events open to the general public (free for participants, supported by sponsors) or for organizations as employee engagement events (fees are associated with these special programs for the coordinating organization; assistance is free for their employee participants). If you’re interested in exploring future collaborations, contact them!
- Illinois Sustainable Technology Center
- School of Art + Design
- School of Information Sciences