Make things happen with MakerSpace

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Everything starts with a simple idea. Microsoft, Apple Computer, and Facebook all began with an individual having a basic concept in mind.

The idea of a MakerSpace on the UNBSJ campus is beginning to take shape. Innovators are looking to establish a working environment that encourages collaboration, creative thinking, sharing and using tools.

Wayne Hansen, the Academic Technology Services manager at UNB, is a strong believer in the idea of MakerSpace. He says, “my initial thought is lets do it! Make, learn, share.”

On Thursday afternoon, in the Whitebone Lounge, Hansen opened the MakerSpace meeting by taking a panoramic picture of the crowd and talking about the concept itself. “For those who haven’t heard about it, MakerSpace is a community oriented workspace where people can work on projects they’re interested in,” he says. “It can be anything- sewing, knitting, word-working- anything.”

MakerSpace is designed as an interactive environment for individuals seeking to make ideas a reality. “It offers a community of people interested in making, learning and sharing,” Hansen says. “It is not just for engineers, or computer science students, or artists. If someone has an idea for a project, a proper MakerSpace should provide the tools, space, and technology to help students create.”

Hansen says his involvement with MakerSpace started during the fall of 2013. The Student Technology Fee committee, of which he is a member, purchased a 3D printer. “We noticed that students were really engaged with it in the commons and wanted to find a way to give them hands-on experience,” he says. “Our MakerSpace project emerged from those discussions.

During the meeting, Hansen showed examples of global MakerSpace communities on a projected screen, including one located in Chile. “The movement has really only existed in this form for the last couple of years though it is actually a technological extension of the ‘Do-It-Yourself’ ethos which has existed a long time,” he says. “Five to six years ago there were only a handful of MakerSpaces/HackerSpaces in North America and now there are hundreds.”

The goal is to reach out to people, encourage them to expand their networks and see how they fit into MakerSpace. “It is kind of the vision we started with,” says Hansen. “When I began tweeting about this, many people reached out, offered support and wanting to help. This was before it even existed!”

For Derick Tchodie-Magla, a first year Business student, the idea of MakerSpace sounds appealing. “Just the fact that everybody from different horizons come together,” he says. “They can make something awesome. The best things are created that way.”

MakerSpace enables people to collaborate and share ideas with each other. Tchodie-Magla is pleased to see that students understand the potential and describes it as “very awesome.” He says some students don’t talk to each other, despite taking the same courses for their degree programs.

Hansen was pleased by the amount of people attending the event. “I think there are lots of creative minded people that will be able to use this space,” he says. “The ideas floating around at the meet-up were incredible and absolutely feasible as well. Some folks want to build 3D printers. Some want to fly 3D printed drones. A proper MakerSpace will make that possible.”

Tchodie-Magla says he has a lot of friends studying business at UNBSJ who attended the event. “Most of the people are in my business program- I don’t have any engineering friends,” he says. “It will make the school community come together, basically. The fact that it makes people from different horizons come together is just awesome.”

Hansen is optimistic about the future of the UNB MakerSpace project. “I think it has the potential to build a strong interdisciplinary community of artists, makers, and even entrepreneurs,” he says.

In fact, there is an upcoming project in the works at MakerSpace. Hansen says it is of a particular aviation variety. “We are building a drone- the shell is made now- and we’re hoping to fly it at some point!”