IDeATe operations during COVID-19 safety measures

Updated: Wednesday 2 September 2020, 10:30am EDT

Below are the measures that we are employing within IDeATe as the university responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are following the university’s cues to exercise an overabundance of caution and are aligning with measures being taken by similar facilities on campus. As the overriding policies and the health situation shift, we will adjust and update. All of these measures come with an asterisk that anyone who feels that their circumstances are extraordinary should reach out to their instructors and candidly discuss their situation, as well as any alternative arrangements that could be made for completion of coursework and class attendance. Instructors have been continually advised by university leadership to remain as flexible as possible in adapting instruction to individual students’ circumstances and challenges. IDeATe may still be contacted via

We very much appreciate everyone’s efforts and patience as we navigate this new reality together. The spirit from faculty and students has been one of cooperation and support and, frankly, it’s great to see. Please take care of yourselves.

Wednesday 2 September 2020, 10:30am EDT

Welcome back!  Whether you’re joining us virtually or in-person, we hope the start of the fall term has been treating you well so far.  Here are a few follow-ups to specific procedures which were still being developed at the time of our broader operational update on 20 August:

Laser cutter arrangements: While the IDeATe laser cutters will remain closed to general community use this fall, IDeATe has arranged with TechSpark to provide laser cutter access to interested IDeATe students.  24-210 Special Topics: Maker Series: Inventive Projects is a variable-unit pass/fail mini course offered in both Mini-1 and Mini-2.  Students who enroll in 24-210 for one (1) unit are entitled to one hour per week of reserved laser cutter time at the TechSpark facilities, as well as unlimited walk-in time as capacity allows.

Students who want or need laser cutter access during the first half of the semester should sign up for one unit of 24-210 A1 before the Mini-1 Add deadline this Friday, 4 September.  If adding the additional unit would cause financial or administrative hardship, please reach out to IDeATe at and we will look into potential alternative arrangements.

IDeATe instructors and TAs who need to cut one-off projects should continue to make appointments with IDeATe via

Fall 2020 Lending requests: The online IDeATe Lending request form is now open.  Remember, requests will only be considered for students enrolled in Fall 2020 IDeATe courses where the item is considered academically necessary, and all requests must receive approval from both their respective course instructor and IDeATe administrative staff.  Approved requests will be prepared for contactless pickup daily (Mon–Thu) at the main IDeATe office, Hunt A9.

Spring 2020 Lending returns: As mentioned previously, outstanding due dates have been extended to Wednesday 30 September 2020, and notices were sent today to borrowers to this effect.  For borrowers with high-value or high-importance items, this is expected to be the final extension granted.  All other borrowers may use the links contained in their most recent transaction notice to request a further automatic renewal online, if needed.

Students who are in Pittsburgh should return their items by contactless dropoff at the main IDeATe office, Hunt A9.  Students who remain remote should contact to make shipping arrangements if necessary.  Do NOT ship any items to IDeATe without first coordinating with IDeATe by emailing AND receiving explicit permission to do so.

On-site staffing: We have begun our on-site staffing schedule Monday–Thursday, 8am–noon and 1–6pm.  Please keep in mind that this schedule is approximate, is subject to change without notice, and that we may be busy in meetings or attending to other areas at any given time.  If we are in the Hunt A9 office and you need assistance, please ring the doorbell or call the phone number on the posted door sign.  Contactless pickup/dropoff may be conducted in the vestibule at any time Hunt Library is open.

Thursday 20 August 2020, 4:00pm EDT

With the return to hybrid instruction right around the corner, IDeATe will be employing updated operational procedures for Fall 2020 in alignment with federal, state, local, and university health guidance. The following procedures, as always, are subject to change as public health responses to local conditions shift; however, we want to communicate various expectations for how our operations will look at the start of classes.

On-site staffing: For Fall 2020, IDeATe will generally be operating on a Monday–Thursday business week for on-site staffing and facility purposes. Our facilities will effectively be closed on Fridays. Many services will be available only by appointment request to We will have a significantly reduced on-site staff presence to reflect our reduced schedule of courses with an on-site component, so please expect occasional interruptions in service and plan ahead.

The primary Pandemic Safety Officer for IDeATe is George Minick. Backups are Kelly Delaney, Tim Parenti, Cody Soska, and Robert Zacharias.

Building hours and library spaces: Beginning Monday 31 August and continuing through Tuesday 24 November, Hunt Library will open at 7:45am each weekday (except Labor Day, Monday 7 September). The building will remain open until 10:15pm on Monday–Thursday evenings, and until 6:00pm on Fridays. These hours serve primarily to accommodate the classes scheduled inside the building and, as such, many spaces will be closed to the public. Please do not congregate anywhere in the library before or after classes; instead, please use the designated outdoor “touchdown spaces” as short-term transit areas. If you need a longer-term space, various seating throughout the library will be reservable online. Please review and be aware of University Libraries’ latest COVID-19 procedures.

Classroom/lab access and procedures: Our usual classroom/lab access model remains suspended. Beginning Monday 31 August, student keycard access to access-controlled lab spaces will be provided only to those actively enrolled in a Fall 2020 full-semester or mini class which is actively meeting in that space, and will initially be limited to 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after designated class times. Please do not arrive earlier or linger later, and adhere to all posted classroom occupancy limits.

Instructors and TAs will maintain keycard access at all times Hunt Library is open to facilitate class setup, and are expected to help maintain proper physical distancing while in the space. Due to registrar scheduling constraints, IDeATe lab spaces are not expected to be made immediately reservable for any purpose. If this changes, we will notify the community via email announcements and updating this site.

All students and instructors are asked to tap their ID card upon entering an IDeATe lab in order to facilitate contact tracing. Additionally, since the Minimum Requirements to Return to Campus require a reversion to remote work to be accomplished within 24 hours should circumstances warrant, classrooms may be closed on short notice. Students are advised to take their physical projects with them to and from each class to avoid losing access to stored projects, while instructors should be aware of this limitation and be prepared to adapt instruction as necessary.

Special building and classroom access procedures are being developed to accommodate our micro courses with an in-person component which are held over weekends while Hunt Library is closed. These procedures will be communicated to affected instructors — and, in turn, enrolled students — as those dates approach.

Classroom technology and instructor support: Computing Services has installed baseline A/V equipment in all S3-assigned classrooms for Fall 2020, including IDeATe Studio A (Hunt 106B), Fabrication Lab (A5), Physical Computing Lab (A10), and Media Lab (A10A). Each lectern will have a phone number which can be used to contact IDeATe and/or Computing Services staff for troubleshooting, triage, and on-site support if needed. The Eberly Center has additional resources for instructors on using this technology and managing a hybrid classroom, and can be reached for consultation at We will not be equipped to provide any classroom deliveries this semester.

Spring 2020 classroom lost-and-found: Our classroom spaces have been cleared in preparation for the Fall 2020 semester. Items left behind in Spring 2020 have been relocated to a lost-and-found area. Please email to make an appointment to review this area beginning Monday 31 August. We plan to maintain this lost-and-found through at least January 2021 to accommodate those who are remaining remote this fall, but those who are in Pittsburgh should plan to retrieve their items within the first few weeks of classes if possible.

Returning outstanding Lending items: We have further extended the due dates on all outstanding items to Wednesday 30 September 2020; however, those who are in Pittsburgh should plan to return their items as soon as they are able, once they have completed their modified arrival quarantine period. Contactless dropoff will be conducted at the main IDeATe office, Hunt A9, beginning Monday 31 August. Simply tap your keycard to access the vestibule anytime Hunt Library is open. For safety, returned items will be quarantined before being processed.

For borrowers with items of particular operational importance or value (including, but not limited to: laptops, cameras, VR equipment, and sewing machines), this is anticipated to be the final extension granted. Students with such items who remain remote should contact to make shipping arrangements if necessary. Do NOT ship any items to IDeATe without first coordinating with IDeATe by emailing AND receiving explicit permission to do so. All other borrowers will receive an email later in August with a link to an online form which will allow an automatic renewal of their items through Tuesday 24 November 2020 if they are still needed. Students who are not in Pittsburgh and will not be graduating in Fall 2020 will also be able to request consideration for a January 2021 due date through this form.

Lending procedure: We will begin accepting requests to borrow items from IDeATe Lending on Wednesday 2 September via an online form. Student lending privileges will temporarily be limited only to those enrolled in Fall 2020 IDeATe courses where the item is considered academically necessary. In particular, IDeATe laptops will only be made available as needed to students in IDeATe courses with specific computing requirements that have been communicated in advance to IDeATe administration.

All lending requests must receive prior approval from both their respective course instructor and IDeATe administrative staff, and will be prepared for pickup daily (Mon–Thu). Contactless pickup and dropoff will be conducted at the main IDeATe office, Hunt A9. Simply tap your keycard to access the vestibule anytime Hunt Library is open. For safety, returned items will be quarantined before being processed.

Laser cutter procedure: We will have limited laser cutter availability by appointment for instructors and TAs to cut one-off projects and classroom samples. Contact to arrange an appointment. We are still exploring possible models to provide laser cutter access to students enrolled in certain Fall 2020 IDeATe courses, which we do not expect to begin prior to 8 September.

3D printing procedure: Student access to Stratasys Skylab will continue to be provisioned as usual for IDeATe courses which require it. Those enrolled in a Fall 2020 IDeATe course must continue to provide the course name and number in the comments field of their submissions which are required for their IDeATe course. All other prints will be billed to student accounts. Specialized print requests which may require other 3D printers should be emailed to for evaluation. Student access to the 3D printer area is prohibited.

Completed prints will be collected from the printers daily (Mon–Thu) by IDeATe staff and will be made available for contactless pickup at the main IDeATe office, Hunt A9. Simply tap your keycard to access the vestibule anytime Hunt Library is open.

Monday 27 July 2020, 2:15pm EDT

Educational preparation work for Fall 2020 has begun in our Hunt Library facility in a limited capacity.  While the ongoing situation remains fluid, we wanted to provide some updates on these preparations and the plans we have been forming for the return to hybrid instruction announced in June.

Student projects and belongings: As part of our preparation efforts, we must begin cleaning up student belongings and projects which were abandoned in our classrooms due to the sudden disruptions in March.  All that we are able to identify as personal belongings will be consolidated into a lost-and-found area for each classroom.  We will make every attempt to identify valuable personal items and contact the owners where possible/known; however, we cannot make guarantees in this regard.  If you are concerned about a particular item, please contact by Friday 7 August with as many descriptive details as possible.

Abandoned class projects derived from materials provided by IDeATe will either be discarded or broken down for parts to return to their respective labs.  We will attempt to save for the lost-and-found any project component that is clearly identifiable as a valuable personal item.  Contact us by Friday 7 August at with any request to move a project to the lost-and-found instead.  Please be as descriptive as possible in providing details so we can identify the correct projects.

The lost-and-found will be made available by appointment once classes resume and will be maintained as necessary through at least 31 January 2021 to accommodate those who will remain remote in the fall.  We will encourage students to arrange to retrieve their belongings as soon as it is feasible.

Building access: For the Fall 2020 semester, Hunt Library will not be open 24/7 as usual; rather, the building will only be open as much as is necessary to accommodate its classes during the workweek, and will be subject to occupancy limits and additional guidelines for all non-class purposes.  Exact hours are still being determined and will be posted to the Libraries website.  Weekend access will be strictly limited to those attending IDeATe micro courses, and will be coordinated directly closer to those dates.

Instructors who need access to our Hunt Library classrooms in August for essential preparatory work are asked to email as soon as possible.  We will work with you to coordinate a one-off appointment or to arrange more regular access.  We will be including these plans in an updated on-site work proposal to be submitted for approval.

Lending: Lending remains unavailable through the remainder of the summer.  Although we are not expecting to have routine walk-in borrowing available for the Fall 2020 semester, we are working on adapting our lending operation to accommodate the borrowing of IDeATe course-essential equipment on an appointment basis.  Further details will be posted here in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, all previously borrowed items remain due on Friday 4 September 2020 for now.  Details on how returns will be handled for both local and remote students will be communicated in August.  In particular, students who are planning to be local to Pittsburgh should ensure that they bring their borrowed items back to campus for return to IDeATe.

Instructor support: The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation is now set up as the first point of contact for any remote teaching needs, as they are preparing a range of resources and support for instructors, including access to a new menu of tested tools and techniques.  Instructors who have specific technology needs for remote/hybrid instruction should first contact the Eberly Center at for a consultation, so that these needs can be tracked and managed at a university level.

If the Eberly Center is unable to coordinate a full solution for a particular instructional need, instructors are asked to seek second-level support from their home department (where applicable) before contacting IDeATe for further resources.

Classroom support: Additional technology is being installed throughout campus over the summer, including installation of new standard minimum video and microphone capability in all registrar and key departmental classrooms.  More details on which IDeATe classrooms may be receiving this support are forthcoming.

Friday 8 May 2020, 2:00pm EDT

Unfortunately, we remain unable to open Hunt Library and IDeATe Lending for services including the return of equipment, so we are temporarily partnering with CMU Postal Services to accept returns of borrowed items in the short-term.  Our focus is on high-value items: specifically those held by graduating students and those held by returning students who are unable to retain their items over the summer.  Returning students are not expected to return their items until Friday 4 September.  If you’re unsure which guidance applies to you, please contact

Students who are local to Pittsburgh, or who are planning to return to Pittsburgh to attend to personal matters before Monday 15 June, may choose to pack their items in a box, case, or bag, as compactly as possible, to prepare them for drop-off.  Securely attach a legible label to the package with the following address, and include your own name in the return address:

Library Returns – IDeATe
CMU Postal Services
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA  15213

Properly packaged items may be dropped off at the CMU Post Office’s package pickup window on the lower level of the Cohon University Center; their current hours are Monday–Friday, 10:00am–2:00pm (check Postal Services’ website for the latest updates). Use the entrance to the CUC along the The Cut near the bookstore; all other entrances are locked. CMU ID is required to enter the building.  Please email us at once you’ve dropped off your items so we know to check for them as we’re able.

Do NOT ship any items to this address without first coordinating with IDeATe by emailing AND receiving explicit permission to do so.  Certain items may require special care or handling, and we may be able to provide a pre-paid shipping label in many circumstances.

Thursday 23 April 2020, 3:45pm EDT

With the recent extension to the current Stay-at-Home order in Pennsylvania and continued uncertainty regarding the resumption of normal operations, we are now actively encouraging all students who still have obligations to IDeATe Lending to hold onto their borrowed items for the immediate future, regardless of whether they are graduating.  

At this time, there are no formal deadlines for May and August 2020 graduates; we will be relying on borrowers to make good faith attempts to return their borrowed items after we reopen and when it is safe.  Students slated to return to campus in Fall 2020 are expected to maintain responsibility for the care of their borrowed items until that time, and have been given a provisional due date of Friday 4 September 2020.

Today, we sent detailed instructions to local graduating students with items valued at $75 or more for the case that they might need to leave town and return their items before we are able to reopen; please email any questions to  Returning students who feel they are unable to keep or store their borrowed items until fall should email to coordinate arrangements.  Please do not attempt to ship any items to us at this time without first arranging it with us directly.

Wednesday 8 April 2020, 3:30pm EDT

Hunt Library and all IDeATe facilities remain closed until further notice.  Today, we sent emails to individual students with items borrowed from the IDeATe Lending Office to make arrangements for the return of these items.  There are three main approaches being taken:

  1. For those who have items with a total replacement value of $75 or more, we are requesting that students respond by Wednesday 15 April with details about their current situation and the whereabouts of their items so that we can begin to coordinate the necessary arrangements for their eventual return on a case-by-case basis.  Of these students, those returning to campus in Fall 2020 will also have their due dates extended to 10pm on Friday 4 September 2020, which is the end of the first week of fall classes, although we will work with these students to coordinate earlier returns to the extent they are safely possible.
  2. For those graduating in May or August 2020 who have items with a total replacement value of less than $75 will not be required to return the items they have borrowed, although they will be welcome to return these items if they are able and a safe opportunity arises.
  3. For those returning to campus in Fall 2020 and who have items with a total replacement value of less than $75, we are proactively extending all due dates to 10pm on Friday 4 September 2020, which is the end of the first week of fall classes.  This is in response to Provost Jim Garrett’s 31 March announcement that summer programming will continue online through early August.  If a safe opportunity arises for in-person return of items before the end of the Spring semester, we will communicate those opportunities here and in direct communications.

Remember, unless indicated otherwise, patrons remain responsible for the items they have borrowed until they are able to be returned to IDeATe.  Borrowers with any questions should reach out to

Thursday 19 March 2020, 5:30pm EDT

This evening, president Farnam Jahanian announced that all University Libraries will be closed to patrons and the public effective at 6pm on Friday 20 March 2020, until further notice.  This is in compliance with Governor Tom Wolf’s directive that all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania must close for the time being, and includes all access to all IDeATe labs, studios, and Lending in Hunt Library.

Wednesday 18 March 2020, 11:00am EDT

Access to IDeATe Labs and Studios

We have shut off student access to the Fabrication, Media, and Physical Computing labs, as well as the Soft Technologies Studio and the Wood Shop. This measure is to align with the university’s guideline communicated on 15 March 2020: “All students will only be able to complete their coursework remotely and online to give everyone as much of a consistent experience as possible. Faculty and TA office hours, advisor appointments and other academic supports will be available online or by phone.”

Faculty, TAs, and IDeATe administrative staff who normally have access have retained that access and can facilitate academically necessary access, but are expected to discourage group congregations and encourage proper social distancing. Access will be limited to Hunt Library’s reduced hours.

Students with special circumstances or who need to make an appointment to access these labs should email

Studios A and B will remain accessible to students, faculty, and staff within Hunt Library’s reduced hours. We have adjusted the tables and chairs in the Studios so that they are more amenable to social distancing and have posted temporarily reduced occupancy limits accordingly.

IDeATe Lending

IDeATe Lending is closed until further notice, and is not expected to resume normal operations and routine borrowing for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

In the meantime, IDeATe instructors may request equipment and coordinate student requests by emailing Pick-up will be by advance appointment only, and is subject to staff and equipment availability.

IDeATe students should route equipment borrowing requests through their instructors. Student borrowing requests will not be considered without both verified instructor support and demonstrable academic need.

Students remaining local to Pittsburgh may make use of our temporary drop-off location in the IDeATe Administrative Office in Hunt A9 to return borrowed items. Simply tap your keycard to access the vestibule anytime during Hunt Library’s reduced hours, and follow the instructions on the table to sign your items back in. Administrative staff will process returns of items as they are available.

For the time being, wherever possible, most due dates on existing transactions have been extended to 6pm on Tuesday 12 May 2020, the last scheduled day of the final exam period; however, borrowers are encouraged to return items as soon as they are no longer needed, if it is safe to do so. In the coming weeks, we will begin reaching out to anyone who has checked out items to see what arrangements can reasonably be made for return. Those with questions are encouraged to email

Friday 13 March 2020, 4:00pm EDT

Access to IDeATe Labs

We are operating under the assumption that students are either unable to be on campus or are following guidelines to stay away as much as possible. While faculty and staff will still have access to the IDeATe Labs, student access will be shut off for now. Studios A and B will still be accessible within Hunt Library’s reduced hours and we have adjusted the tables and chairs in the Studios so that they are more amenable to social distancing.

IDeATe Lending

IDeATe Lending is closed at least until Wednesday 18 March. If IDeATe Lending reopens during the Spring 2020 semester, it will be under limited hours or by appointment. We will reach out to anyone who currently has checked out items in a few weeks to see what arrangements can reasonably be made for return.