New MakerSpace opens in Dana Engineering

Mamta Badlani, Staff Writer

The College of Engineering hosted the Oct. 21 grand opening of the new MakerSpace in Dana Engineering. The new MakerSpace is named Maker-E as a play on the word “bakery.” The name was selected as a part of a contest that asked for student entries.

The opening of the Maker-E was an opportunity for individuals to learn how to design electronics, make prototypes of new technologies, and test their ideas. There was live music by an electro-acoustic orchestra and a design-your-own vinyl sticker station, among other activities. Around 100 students, faculty, and alumni attended the opening.

“I engaged in and overheard several conversations with folks who were new to making in general or the Maker-E in particular. Everyone seemed very excited about the opportunities we are presenting,” Director of Electrical and Computer Engineering Laboratories Matt Lamparter said.

There are two other MakerSpaces on campus, one in the 7th Street Studio and the other in the Mooney Lab at the rear of Breakiron Engineering. While there is some overlap in the resources offered at each location, each MakerSpace maintains a few unique features. The 7th Street Studio and Mooney Lab locations both offer laser cutters that cut a range of materials from plastic to thin gauge steel, while the new Maker-E offers the capability to design and fabricate printed circuit boards.

The space is divided into four main areas dedicated to the different stages of design, which include generating an idea, modeling and design, assembly, and a final stage of testing. Each area has the appropriate tools and resources.

With a lounge fully equipped with comfortable furniture, a microwave, espresso machine, and USB charging ports, the space is designed to be a relaxing environment.

“I am excited to see how makers use our space, the projects they come up with, and the direction the Maker-E moves. We are hoping to be a community-driven space, and I am excited to see that community grow and take shape.  I am particularly excited to see what sorts of collaborations develop as non-engineers join the Maker-E,” Lamparter said.

The mission of the Maker-E and all MakerSpaces is to provide an inclusive space, open to all members of the University community, by providing the means to carry out personal projects. Individuals with an interest in making can access tools, materials, and instruction to execute their ideas. The process requires no previous experience.

“My hope is that people will walk away with a sense of empowerment and accomplishment, and a desire to come back, explore more ideas, and help build our community,” Lamparter said.

Greg Caso ’18 confirmed the inclusivity of the space.

“Even though I wasn’t an engineering major, the people there still took the time to teach me how to learn the software. I found the environment really approachable despite my lack of experience with the equipment. Thanks to the helpful instruction of the people there I’ve gotten better with the laser cutter, and I even used it to engrave a gift for my parents,” Caso said.

Lamparter affirmed that he wants the space to be used for both personal endeavors and academic curricular activities.

The Maker-E has plans to broaden the programming and events hosted in the space, with workshops directed toward the entire community.

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