On our campus, maker culture is defined as an ethos whereby we encourage students’ efforts in innovation and creativity. It includes, but is not limited to, physical spaces, but the focus is much more broad. We are building a broad campus initiative on innovation, creativity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
We are creating a maker “ecosystem” to offer students a variety of ways to access maker spaces. We’re trying to create a range of entry points based on students’ needs and abilities to best serve student (and faculty demand).
We have developed general education coursework that uses our maker spaces. We also have significant upper division coursework in engineering and indusrial design that also use maker spaces. Further, we have venture creation/entrepreneurship classes that also access the maker spaces.
Engineering and Industrial Design are the lead programs in the development of maker skills. We also have General Education coursework that is providing broad access to maker skills.
Students are largely involved through their coursework. Maker-related student groups are in the nascent stages on our campus.
We have a networked set of maker spaces. The entry-level spaces have basic 3-D printers and a laser cutter. The more advanced spaces have complete shops, along with higher-end 3-D printers and plasma/laser cutters. The more advanced spaces also have technical support personnel available to assist faculty and students.
We are networking with the maker community both locally and regionally. We are trying to build collaborations in particular with groups in Northern Virginia.
We don’t yet have any formal partnerships, but we are in discussions with various groups.
The impact to date has been small, but it is growing. The involvement of General Education students has made a big difference, and the university administration has included maker spaces as a target in an upcoming fundraising effort. The maker culture is also supporting our increased emphasis on innovation, creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship.
The furniture for a public maker space was actually designed and constructed by a group of students.
JMU 3-Space classroom – a maker space for General Education students
We are currently in the process of renovating space for our Engineering program which will include a significant maker space.