George Mason University

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Mason's MIX praised as interdisciplinary, innovative community

September 28, 2017   /   by John Hollis

George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera said it’s no coincidence that some of the world’s top 21st-century collaboration hubs are located near major research universities.

Speaking at the Sept. 27 grand opening of The MIX, Cabrera cited places like Silicon Valley, Ca., Austin, Texas, Cambridge, Mass., and Zurich, Switzerland, as bastions for the kind of free-flowing ideas that pave the way for entrepreneurship and innovation. His belief was that the MIX will do likewise in attracting top talent and creating atmospheres conducive to multidisciplinary collaboration and experiential learning.

“That’s basically The MIX,” said Cabrera, who was joined at the launch by Virginia’s Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and a host of regional business leaders and members of the campus and community.

“Bring talented people from around the world into an environment where ideas are constantly being kicked around and worked on,” Cabrera said.

The MIX opening was part of the kickoff for Growth4VA, a larger statewide campaign to show how universities and colleges support Virginia’s economy. Mason has joined the campaign with other public universities to share the value of higher education with lawmakers, businesses and the general public.

Jackson lauded The MIX as a perfect example of how universities support the state’s economy through innovation, discovery and job growth.

“This is about a community,” she said. “The MIX is just that. It’s a mix of all disciplines. It’s a mix of all type of people. It’s a mix of all kinds of imagination. This is a place that can stir all that together. The fun is seeing what you get.”

Located at the heart of Mason’s Fairfax Campus, the 14,000-square foot facility will encourage student innovation and experimentation on a daily basis with ample space for co-working with more than 90 tabletop surfaces and a bevy of different workstations, including 3-D printers, vinyl cutting machines and heat presses.

The MIX launched this summer when it hosted the inaugural Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator program, but the grand opening was scheduled for September so as to allow more students and faculty to attend, said Sean Mallon, Mason’s associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation.

“What the library did for the 20th century, we want to do for the 21st century,” he said.