What is the Gadget Garage?

Launched with seed funding from the UI Student Sustainability Commitee (SSC), the Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative repair center for student and staff owned electronic devices, that works to:

  • extend the useful life of products, and thus conserve the natural and human resources invested in their manufacture
  • provide experiential learning for students through associated classes, volunteering, and participation in the iFixit Technical Writing Project
  • empower people to see do-it-yourself repair as a viable option for addressing minor damage and performance issues

By “collaborative repair,” we mean that we’re here to help you help yourself! You don’t drop off electronics at the Gadget Garage for someone else to repair so you can pick them up later. You come in, tell us about your problem, and together we’ll sit down, do a little fiddling and Internet research, and work on getting your device back in working order. We’re combating the mainstream belief that electronics are too complex or expensive to repair by welcoming and assisting students and staff of all technical experience levels (including “zero,” “zilch,” “nada” and “none”) to “tinker” with their devices. Depending on the situation, activities may range from guidance on how to make your device run faster or install new software to hands-on repair and replacement of components. We don’t have replacement parts on hand, or currently sell those, but we’ll help you figure out if you need parts, what those are, and where you can get them. Then you can obtain those at a local shop or online and come back in when you’re ready to make the replacement so we can provide guidance and moral support! Or, if you’re comfortable with doing it on your own at that point, that’s cool too.

By “electronic devices,” we mean all the typical items this phrase brings to mind, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc., AND other small appliances and common household devices with electronic components. Stop and think about it for a minute–we’re surrounded by items with electronics integrated into them. Even greeting cards can have sound cards inside them to play music or record messages. We believe all items with electronic components should last, and not be seen as disposable. We can’t guarantee that we can show you how to fix everything you bring in, but if you can carry it in and it has an electronic component, we’ll definitely give it a try! And hopefully, we’ll have fun together doing it. If the required repair or maintenance seems beyond our capability, we’ll help you find local repair shops that can help (Note that we do not make endorsements or specific recommendations–we just help you help yourself. The decision about which, if any, local repair business to take your device to is ultimately yours alone.). If your device is sadly beyond repair, we’ll help you find local recycling options.

Who is involved with the Gadget Garage?

The Illini Gadget Garage is a collaboration of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), the UI School of Art and Design, and the School of Information Science (The iSchool at Illinois). Staff from these units provide support and guidance. The project is administered/coordinated by ISTC. We have a few paid staff members, but we rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers. Check out our Meet the Advisers, Meet the Staff, and Meet the Volunteers pages.

We serve students, staff, and faculty on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and our services are free for these groups (we’ll verify your affiliation via your i-Card, campus directory, or similar means). We also offer “pop-up” repair clinics beyond the UIUC campus, either as community events open to the general public (free for participants, supported by sponsors) or for organizations as employee engagement events (fees are associated with these special programs for the coordinating organization; assistance is free for their employee participants). If you’re interested in exploring future collaborations, contact Joy Scrogum at jscrogum@illinois.edu.

Where is the Gadget Garage Located?

Our main physical location is 1833 S. Oak St., just north of Hazelwood Drive (aka Illinois Natural History Survey Storage Building #3 or SB3). This is in the Research Park area of the UIUC campus. We also host “pop-up” repair clinics in various locations around campus (check our Calendar for upcoming events).

When is the Gadget Garage open?

Open hours at our physical location vary from semester to semester, depending on staff and volunteer availability. Check the hours listed in the right-hand sidebar on this site, on our calendar, or check our Facebook page.

Also, we will continue to host pop-up clinics at various locations. Check our calendar and social media networks often for details.

Download our overview postcard (PDF document).

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