By Kate Ariano
Students can create things they never thought possible at the places where what you dream can truly become reality: the makerspaces of the University of Connecticut Storrs campus.
The Learning Community Innovation Zone (LCIZ) in Peter J. Werth Tower as well as the Makerspace in the Homer D. Babbidge Library are just two of the spaces that UConn offers to its students to simply be creative.
Cody Ryan, the LCIZ makerspace supervisor, says the makerspaces serve as collaborative areas where students can spread out and work.
“Our executive director of the First Year Programs and Learning Communities, David Ouimette, and the director of the Learning Communities Programs, Melissa Foreman, were asking students what they would want in a space,” Ryan says.
With the influence of the Maker movement and maker culture in the air, lately students have been encouraged to have a mentality of being collaborative and to get back to hands on learning styles, Ryan says.
A freshman molecular and cell biology major in the WiMSE Learning Community, Donna McNeill, says the space is a great way to destress and learn more about her major through the creation of physical cell representations. It also provided her with a great leadership role on campus while teaching others how to use machines in the space.
“Once I learned how to do it, I brought some of my friends down, and I got to teach them how to do it,” McNeill says.
The LCIZ has machinery that students might not have access to elsewhere. Besides their 3D printer and vinyl cutter, there is a wide array of hand tools for those who would rather use those.
While students in learning communities that reside in Werth Tower have easy access to the makerspace just downstairs, both the LCIZ and the library makerspaces are available to all students after they have completed a short safety quiz.
The library makerspace is run by Kim McNamara, the Technology Services Support Coordinator, who says the equipment they use is pretty user friendly.
“What we offer starts very low barrier to entry,” McNamara says. “That was probably one of the base principles that the space was developed for.”
In addition, the makerspaces offer special events varying from paint nights and LEGO nights, to a Women in Making Forum on March 30 and the Maker Fair coming up on April 6.