Bridgewater State University’s new makerspace is already helping students and faculty soar skyward, uncover the secrets of the ocean, and do seemingly anything in between.
The interdisciplinary initiative offers access to and training on specialized equipment. Based in the new Think Tank in the Dana Mohler-Faria Science & Mathematics Center, it includes the university’s wind tunnel, electronics lab, machine shop and art lab.
“It’s a great way to not just work on something by yourself,” said Amanda Morrison, G’20, (pictured above adjusting a machine) a computer science student and Think Tank supervisor. “You can connect with people who are interested in the same things and hopefully share ideas and make something cool.”
Here’s a sample of the makerspace’s diverse users:
Evan Hultstrom, ’19, aviation science major from York, Maine:
Evan is part of BSU’s Flight Team, which competes at National Intercollegiate Flying Association events. One activity challenges students to fly an airplane 200 feet above the ground and drop a container with the goal of hitting a target. Evan uses a makerspace 3D printer to create the plastic containers, which must meet weight and dimensional requirements.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKERSPACE: “I thought it was so much fun, just going in there. I was like a kid in a candy shop. You could design so many mechanical parts.”
WHY SHOULD OTHERS CHECK IT OUT?: “It’s a great way to explore building things.”
Dr. Calvin Mires, visiting assistant professor of anthropology:
Mires last year led a shipwreck summer program for high school students. They visited Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth to examine and make scale drawings of timbers believed to be from the Sparrow-Hawk, a 17th century ship that brought Europeans to the New World. They used the makerspace to create 3D models of some of the 109 pieces of the vessel in storage at the museum.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKERSPACE: “This is where a 400-year-old shipwreck can come to life. It’s not just pictures. It’s actually bringing history to a new generation.”
WHY SHOULD OTHERS CHECK IT OUT?: “The possibilities are immense… You have an opportunity to leverage a new way of education, a new way of engaging students in the 21st century.”
Dr. Lisa Battaglino, dean of the College of Education and Allied Studies, and Beth Gracia, staff assistant to the dean:
Battaglino and Gracia made a plastic mold to create candy with a heart design. They used software to design the mold and machines to create it. The pair did so to practice and understand how the makerspace can be used.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKERSPACE: “Makerspace is particularly important for the College of Education and Allied Studies’ students and professors because it offers state-of-the-art opportunities that students may want to replicate in public schools where they will work and teach in the future. The collaborative learning environment provides a setting in which teacher candidates should be comfortable and it provides an example that can be modified and replicated in schools,” Battaglino said.
WHY SHOULD OTHERS CHECK IT OUT?: “Makerspace offers opportunities for students to use skills that they have learned to make something that is tangible. The BSU makerspace allows an affordable way for students to use cutting-edge technology,” Gracia said.
Kevin Monteith, ’20, computer science and math major from Bridgewater, Think Tank supervisor:
Kevin is using a 3D printer to make components for a sensor network for the wind tunnel. His project will help the Department of Geography with research.
IMPORTANCE OF MAKERSPACE: “Kids can take an idea of theirs and bring it to fruition pretty fast and they’re not being restricted by what they have at their house or in class. I think it’s a good place to really open up their creativity.”
WHY SHOULD OTHERS CHECK IT OUT?: “If anything, it’s just to be introduced to new technology that is coming into this world. We’re giving them a new way to access it that’s very much open to the community.” (Photos by Drew Cambra, ’19, and Carl Hollant, '15, University News & Video)
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