Bridging the Gap: How Juice House’s iCode “Blend” Brings UToledo and Industry Together

Imagine a lab on wheels on the UToledo engineering campus, featuring solar panels, modular living spaces, centralized dashboard control units and a Tesla-styled large-screen vehicle monitoring system that provides all the infrastructure of the latest in advanced technology — from connected area networks (CAN) to AI-engineered RV experiences.

Meet Juice House’s groundbreaking initiative under its iCode “blend” — a professional and career development program, developed in response to the growing disconnect between university education and industry demands. Since its inception in spring 2023, Juice House’s iCode “blend” has been building its partnership with the College of Engineering, UToledo industrial alumni, local technology companies and professionals to create a dynamic learning experience that prepares students for the fast-paced and competitive world beyond academia.

Dr. Jie Chen, a University of Toledo alumnus from the department of physics, specializes in photovoltaics and serves as an iCode mentor with more than 10 years of industry experience at Guardian Glass, a subsidiary of the Koch company. Drawing from his own academic journey, Chen recognizes that while a college education provides a solid foundation, it often lacks the specific skills required by industries undergoing data transformation or industry trends.

“We aim to provide opportunities similar to co-ops with different companies in the industry. By establishing a bridge to the campus and inviting engineers and scientists to regularly share their experiences, we motivate students and keep them informed about industry trends and developments,” Chen said.

With projects sponsored by a local technology company, iCode envisioned and programmed a technological lab that combined recreation with technology. It encompasses essential engineering and data skills required for preparing students for careers in the industry, consolidating a wide spectrum of abilities within a single framework. This includes tasks ranging from intricate soldering and breadboarding to sophisticated PCB design, intuitive GUI creation and precise CAD drawing. Furthermore, it covers software and firmware programming, web and app development using prominent languages like Python, C++, HTML/CSS and JavaScript. These proficiencies are augmented by advanced technologies such as connected area networks, voice command integration and the seamless interfacing of artificial intelligence with human experiences.

iCode had a trial run of a 12-week BOOST (Building Opportunities, Outcomes and Skills in Technology) program during the summer where students were challenged to work on independent group projects. These projects included: website and app development, firmware/hardware development and machine learning models for energy management. As iCode continues to expand and collaborate with industry partners, iCode will continue to open up more projects that are custom to the levels of experience students being to the program, targeting specific areas of learning and application.

With the iCode “blend,” Juice House has re-imagined the traditional educational model, creating a seamless integration of academic learning and industry experience. iCode “blend” invites like-minded programs, faculty and UToledo alumni to work together in empowering students with relevant skills and knowledge. The Juice House iCode “blend” also invites students looking for academic success and career development to grasp the opportunity to supplement their UToledo experiences with an open bridge to the ever-evolving industry. As this program continues into the Fall semester, students can expect to find more opportunities to get involved. 

If you or you know someone who would be interested in joining iCode, please join here: or shoot an email to