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The third day of the Innovation Factory’s “30 Days of Innovation” at the University of Montana started with intern and fine arts student Zoe Sykora using a digital embroidery machine to weave a newly designed logo for the space: a circled “IF” next to a drill.

The tool, which looks like a combination of a printer, a sewing machine and a laptop, was one of several featured for the Innovation Factory’s “Fashion Hacks” Sunday.

“The whole thing maybe took me 15 minutes. The hardest part was entering all the different variables,” said Sykora, referring to the program that helped the machine translate a vector file into a sewn logo.

The space on the second floor of the University Center began its soft launch Nov. 8, and for an entire month will host similar workshops and lectures to introduce students, and residents of Missoula, to the thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment available to use at no cost.

The Innovation Factory emerged after more than a year of planning and investment on the part of the Office of the Provost, the Blackstone Launchpad at UM and the Office of Research and Creative Scholarship.

Elizabeth Dove, a faculty member at UM’s School of Art and one of Innovation Factory’s directors, said fashion plays into the space’s priority of channeling art and enterprise.

“Fashion was one of the areas when I was younger that I was able to experience this notion we have of branding,” said Dove, who started sewing and making her own clothes as a teenager.

“I won’t pretend to be an expert on fashion, but I do think it’s a part of cultivating an identity and branding oneself in the same way that we see in social media and online,” she said.

Despite fashion being the focus for the IF Sunday, visitors and employees had plenty of other ideas and projects to keep them busy.

While Sykora worked out the logo design and fashioned pockets for her work apron, Brad Allen, the space’s co-director, used a laser cutter to carve an “open” sign out of a piece of orange acrylic to hang at the entrance from the University Center.

Evelyn Wall, a master’s student, gave a guided tour of Mendenhall Glacier on the “liquid galaxy display,” loaned from the university’s Department of Geography. Utilizing the display’s wraparound interface, she zoomed into an ice cave to show images that she shot herself in Alaska three years prior.

Above the hum of the laser cutter, the music of Talking Heads blasted from a Bluetooth stereo mounted into a tailgate. The tailgate boom boxes were one of the earliest projects to come out of the Innovation Factory.

According to Allen, one student walked in hours before the official Nov. 8 opening and immediately went to work with a drill and some aluminum.

“My first impulse was to ask him to wait, but then it dawned on me that that’s exactly what we opened this place for,” Allen said.

The upcoming weeks will feature a class for middle school students to build and program their own robots, a "Hackathon" with teams using all of the Innovation Factory's equipment to construct a project over the course of a day and a performance from sonic artist Burke Jam at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Along with holding events through Dec. 8 for “30 Days of Innovation,” the Innovation Factory will be open daily from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A complete list of events can be found at https://www.umt.edu/innovation-factory/calendar.php

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