IRL student employee Jake Juracka on IL PPE

Nice interview video of Jake Juracka — one of my recently graduated IRL employees — put out by Studio CDM.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

More PPE Heading Out

We’re still chugging along at IL PPE. A bunch more shields and masks out to local schools, hospitals, and assisted living homes. If you need something, head over to our website. If you want to continue helping our project, check our donation page out.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Looking to make masks?

We have a long list of tutorials by Pam Daniels and others over on the Illinois PPE website on how to get started. We also have the materials and machines ready to go if you need them and are in Illinois. Check them out!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

IRL Annual Report

7,234 check-ins before we shut down due to the pandemic, 142 events hosted, and 40 Chuck-E-Cheese references. Check out our 2019-2020 Annual Report here.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Letter from the Director – IRL Year Report

We started a tradition at the IRL last year of writing an end-of-year report. As a part of that, I write a “Letter from the Director.” This year it was particularly challenging to find the right words. But, anyway, here they are:


The IRL community has always been a place where we instigate transformative work. We do this through engagement with the world around us – with objects, tools, and yes, with people. We make our ideas – from the everyday ones to the transformative ones – into real things.

Making is how we create change.

As we close our academic year, we do so with change in mind. Change is all around us, and with it, an uncertain future. But change also presents us with opportunity. Opportunity to help each other, to positively influence our environment, and to help make a better future. As agents of change, it’s our duty to stand up and participate in that process. To make things better.

I continue to be proud of the community that we’ve built together, and its continued ability to take action and act when action is so desperately needed. It’s no mistake that the same students who have made our space successful are the ones who continue to step forward in challenging times. From developing workshops that keep people tinkering while at home to developing much needed personal protective equipment for front line workers, this community has a lot to be proud of.

This is who we are. This is what we do.

I look forward to continuing our service to the DePaul community next year, and to continuing the growth of our ever-expanding community of risk-takers, doers, and makers of things.

Jay Margalus
Faculty Director of Maker Innovation

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Illinois PPE Network Friday Town Hall

We’ll be continuing our @IllinoisPPEorg Friday Town Halls this week. Plenty of updates on our work on masks, face shields, and other initiatives. Tune in at

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

IL PPE Set-Up at Spacelab

Ready to get sewing masks? In the Lockport area? Reach out to me and I’ll get you hooked in with our new sewing machine setup at Lockport City Hall.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Illinois PPE Network Town Hall

Join us today (Friday), and every Friday, for our Town Hall. We’ll talk about what happened in the past week, what’s coming up, and answer any questions that you might have!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

CANCER: Please Step Back

A few days ago my pal Jeff Solin (also an organizer at Illinois PPE) reached out about an idea that his friend Nicole had for a mask for cancer patients that encouraged people to be courteous and keep their distance. I took Nicole’s design idea, and along with my wife Sarah, cut out a design on a few of the new masks that we received through IL PPE. The result is the picture below.

Some preliminary outreach says that more folks might want these. If you’re in need, or know someone who is, of one of these masks let us know by reaching out at [email protected] and we’ll get them to you free of charge.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Friday Reads

Smart-adjacent – Seth Godin

“Instead of the quack doctor who goes on TV in a craven attempt to be famous at any cost, they’re willing to be the patient, thoughtful doctor who reads the research and shares useful information, even if the ratings aren’t as high. This is the long-term influencer who earns the trust of a small circle of people. Mostly, it’s people who care enough to model the behavior they’d like to see from those around them.”

Forest Accumulator – Geoff Manaugh

“And it’s not even a modern idea, as the New York Times points out. For all its apparent, 21st-century sci-fi, the idea of harvesting metal from plants is at least half a millennium old…”

Here’s How Time Works Now – Eli Grober

“Now, I bet you’re wondering what a year is. Well, I hate to say it, but we’re all wondering what a year is. The guy who was in charge of re-adjusting a year just quit, and he won’t talk to any of us, so your guess is as good as mine. But I think it’s gonna be a pretty long time.”

University Leaders Are Failing – Francois Furstenberg

“We now learn that the university was operating on the thinnest of margins, its finances exquisitely vulnerable to disruptions at the hospital.”

Machine Sewing Basics – Pam Daniels

Great video by Illinois PPE organizer pam Daniels on how to get started on your sewing machines. We’re making masks over at Illinois PPE, so this is particularly relevant.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus