Kent State Students Will Cook Up Innovation and Collaboration in New Kitchen

In the heart of Kent State’s new Design Innovation (DI) Hub there will be an “Innovation Teaching Kitchen” where hospitality management students can use the latest technology and food preparation techniques to compete in culinary competitions and collaborate with their peers.

Imagine hospitality management students collaborating with digital media students to produce culinary television shows in the Innovation Teaching Kitchen as passersby look on. Or nutrition students meeting with community neighbors to teach them how to prepare the fresh vegetables they’ve grown in the community garden program.

The 800-square-foot Innovation Teaching Kitchen, with its capacity to live stream the activity from the master chef’s workstation to the DI Hub’s 200-seat lecture hall, will rival other culinary institutes around Cleveland, making it the perfect venue for a teaching kitchen where innovation will take center stage.

The Innovation Teaching Kitchen will be well-designed, efficient and technologically forward, said Anthony Hamilton, associate lecturer/chef instructor in Kent State’s Hospitality Management program in the College of Education, Health and Human Services.

“While I think those attributes speak for themselves in relation to improved curriculum, the biggest improvement will be moving from a production kitchen (we currently reside in one) to an instruction kitchen,” Hamilton added. “The layout of these two styles differ tremendously. The instruction kitchen allows for a drastically increased rate of demonstration, instruction and learning.”

The new kitchen will add another exciting new makerspace to the eco-system of the university’s DI Initiative.

“For DI it gives us a way to incorporate the reality that kitchens are ultimate makerspaces,” said J.R. Campbell, executive director of Kent State’s DI Initiative. “And for EHHS (Education, Health and Human Services) and the Hospitality Management program, it gives them a platform to enhance what they have already been doing in their curricular delivery and expand their reach into a much more public and more innovative context.”

Last spring, Kent State celebrated the construction launch of the DI Hub, which will bring innovations from many disciplines together in a 68,000-square-foot building near the center of the Kent Campus. The construction launch marked the beginning of a major renovation of the former Art Building and is expected to open by fall of 2020.

Recently, Kent State was ranked as having the best makerspaces in Ohio and number six nationwide by Great Value Colleges, which defines makerspaces as a cross between a traditional classroom and a space where students meet up to use technology to create new solutions. The DI Initiative was recognized for the way it is aligning the university’s makerspaces across all the Kent campuses, bringing components of innovation into every college and ultimately creating an eco-system with the centralized DI Hub as the core of the initiative.

Kimberly S. Schimmel, Ph.D, professor and director of Kent State's School of Foundations, Leadership and Administration in EHHS, said faculty and staff are pleased to be collaborative partners with the DI Initiative. Kent State's Hospitality Management Program is the only 4-year degree program in the State of Ohio that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Program in Hospitality Administration.

"The University has included us in all the design and construction details of the Design Innovation Teaching Kitchen and we are especially appreciative of J. R. Campbell’s inclusive insight for how our Hospitality Management program can contribute to the vision of innovation at KSU," Dr. Schimmel said. "Our chef instructors, Anthony Hamilton and Andrew Eith are extraordinary craftsmen and skilled student-focused classroom instructors; they will be terrific ambassadors for our Hospitality Management program." 

There was a major need for the hospitality management program to replace kitchens that had been in use since the 1960s. Designers brainstormed with the culinary instructional leaders in EHHS, who came up with conceptual sketches that fit perfectly.

“We had our consultants design the technical side of the space and prepare these computer images,” said Michael Bruder, Kent State’s executive director of Facilities, Planning and Design. “It is currently funded and moving forward. J.R. is working on the programming side. Everyone is excited about it.”

The facility will have eight identical stations for a class of 16, with a teacher station, and a public area with fluent connectivity to both formal and informal adjacent spaces in the DI Hub, such as open collaborative seating areas and the DI Auditorium.

One of the unique features of the Innovation Teaching Kitchen is that it is being designed to include cameras trained on a master chef station to display images on the screens inside of the space, as well as screens outside of the space. The space reinforces the design thinking concept of collaboration, but also places the kitchen in the context of other makerspaces.

“As such, it becomes an innovation kitchen in that we can host challenges there that can be shared with large audiences,” Campbell mused. “It opens up a world of possibilities that help us to think differently about kitchens as contemporary makerspaces. It’s not just about the cooking classes.”

The Innovation Teaching Kitchen will be a location that is accessible for tours and it will increase visibility of the culinary program immensely, Campbell said. It will be a wonderful recruiting tool for potential students. In the future, it may also be the location of culinary hacks, much like Kent State’s Fashion Tech/Hackathonand Sky-Hack competitions.

“Together with EHHS, we will be developing a comprehensive fundraising plan for Innovation Teaching Kitchen collaborations, which may include opportunities to support food challenges or naming rights for spaces within the kitchen,” Campbell said.

The DI Hub will connect students, faculty and the community to a network of existing spaces or DI “nodes,” makerspaces and resource laboratories across the university.

This connection will improve innovation at the intersections between disciplines and increase awareness and access to the broad range of university design, technology and resource laboratories. In addition, the DI Hub will include a new, large dining venue that will seat about 300 people and offer unique menu items.

The initiative will bring together ideas and innovations from many disciplines including aeronautics, art design, engineering, brain health, sustainability, biochemistry, marketing, advanced materials science/liquid crystals, computer science, fashion, entrepreneurship and hospitality management.

“We are incredibly proud of our program, our faculty and especially our students and their capabilities,” Hamilton said. “Currently, we do not have a 'show room' to offer a glimpse of what we do for prospective students and their parents. Having a facility that is new, innovative, efficient and otherwise impressive allows for a dramatic change in how we showcase the culinary aspects of our program. I simply cannot wait to show just what our students are capable of doing.”

To learn more about Kent State’s DI Initiative, visit

To learn more about the College of Education Health and Human Services, visit

POSTED: Tuesday, April 14, 2020 03:11 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 10:48 AM
April McClellan-Copeland