New space combines engineering and arts

Melissa Rios, Staff Writer

The 7th Street Studio is set to debut its newest addition for the fall 2015 semester: the Makerspace. 7th Street Studio Coordinator Gretchen Heuges, Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Joseph Meiser and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Nathan Siegel announced the new space at the University Staff Forum on March 4.

The space will provide students with an environment for them to collaborate with their peers and further their education by making their ideas become real. Thus far, the Makerspace will include“the latest high-tech tools for creative hands-on explorations” such as a desktop CNC router, a laser cutter, a 3D scanner, several 3D printers, computer workstations, and table-top woodworking tools.

Currently, the Niche is slated for renovation to house the above-mentioned tools and collaborative spaces. The space will be monitored from 10 a.m. to midnight A Makerspace manager and several student mentors will staff the space, which is a similar model to 7th Street Studio’s staff. Students will be free to use the space and tools once they complete training. Frequent training and skills workshops are also slated to be part of the Makerspace’s operations. Faculty and staff are expected to have involvement in the space.

Makerspaces originated from the hacker culture that came before them and fill a “gap for those raised in the past twenty years” according to Meiser. They primarily serve as physical locations for technological experimentation, development, and prototyping.

In its original culture, they served as empowering learning spaces in a non-academic environment. Now they are often seen in very many places in the private sector. Because they are seen as places where users can direct and control their own learning, they have the potential to affect high school and university students the most.

According to Heuges, the Makerspace will be tracking usage and students will not have to pay an access fee. Instead, students are encouraged to bring their own materials. There will be materials in the space, but there will be no profit made on the materials. The prices charged will attempt to cover the material itself; that is, if a student were to use the 3D printer, the price would likely correlate with the weight of the print.

“We’re excited. It’s the best location possible. It’s good real estate,” Siegel said.

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