All About DePaul’s Idea Realization Labs

Sienna, a college student, smiling while standing in front of the Idea Realization Sign, in the DePaul loop campus art lab.

DePaul not only offers one Idea Realization Lab (IRL), but 2. IRL is in the Loop campus and IRL 2 in Lincoln Park. IRL is a makerspace for DePaul students! I absolutely love going there to be creative, use some of the awesome machinery, and take some of their workshop classes. It offers a great space to get crafty. Here are some of my favorite things at IRL!

The Bins

The bins are a great place to start if you don’t know what you want to do. A lot of times I will just look through them and pick up something. It allows me to try new things and create something cool. I never would’ve picked up stamp making, which is my new favorite hobby. Also it’s a great thing to do in between classes.

Bright, DePaul blue bins, with a sign saying “Craft Supplies” on the front. With bins containing a wide range of supplies.

Cricut Machine

My next all time favorite thing at IRL is the cricut machine. While no authorization is required, IRL staff are super willing to help and offer neat workshops to practice. With the cricut machine I have made t-shirts, stickers and so much more.

A circuit machine at a desk next to a computer screen, in DePaul’s Idea Realization Lab.<br />

Laser Cutter

The laser cutter is one thing that does require authorization, which usually you get in a workshop. But don’t worry if you can’t make a class. If you have an idea, staff will show you how to use the cutter and then you’ll be authorized. This too has become one of my favorite machines. Something about it makes you feel very powerful when you use it.

A laser cutter sitting on top of shelves with wood and acrylic pieces in them. With a little instruction sheet next to it.


IRL’s woodworking area has so many tools and things to create. I love it, because you can build anything from nightstands to shelves. It also allows you to learn how to use wood shop tools which has come in handy for me.

A big room with lots of woodworking tools, benches, and pieces of wood, with windows showing neighboring Chicago buildings.


The last thing I want to mention is not an actual machine, but the workshops. Workshops are available on both campuses and allow you to meet people, learn a new skill, and create something awesome. My favorite one so far has been the rug tufting workshop. Plus they are great about always posting about what’s going on for the week, so you won’t miss out. 

A sign that says “Welcome to IRL” at DePaul’s idea lab, showing comfy chairs, work spaces and the rest of DePaul’s loop campus space.

Definitely visit one of DePaul’s IRLs. I love being able to try new things and getting to create. IRL has become one of my favorite places on campus!


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