As an institution, how would you define 'maker culture'?

At Oregon State University, “maker culture” is a part of our DNA. Throughout our history as a national leader in engineering, agricultural, and marine sciences and the pioneering leadership of our success as Oregon’s land grant institution, the faculty and students at OSU have embodied the spirit and the focus of a place with a purpose. Making occupies a central place, and always has, within our drive to fulfill this purpose: to create a positive difference in quality of life, natural resources, and economic prosperity throughout Oregon and beyond. Through discovery, innovation, applied learning, and an inclusive mix of ideas and people, we are meeting challenges, solving problems, and turning ideas into reality. Our land-grant mission empowers us to engage community-based issues and, in partnership with others, we make solutions. Making in all its forms fuels this enterprise, and infuses the way we go about being faculty, students, administrators, alumni, families, and community members at OSU.  

How does your institution foster maker culture?

We at OSU believe that maker culture is catalyzed by both innovative ideas and innovative spaces. As an active research university, our approach to making is driven largely by the creativity and passion of our faculty, students, and staff, who work both within existing and traditional academic units, offices, and initiatives, but who also seek creative, interdisciplinary opportunities that lie “between the cracks” and who forge new projects, programs, and educational experiences for out students and the people of Oregon. Our campus is brimming with maker activity, in the form of new and old spaces that have been designed or organized organically around the social, intellectual, and physical work of making.

As Oregon’s land grant institution and one of only 2 universities in the United States to also hold, air, sea and space grant designations, OSU applies the maker dynamic throughout the state, engaging traditional channels, like the Extension Service and 4-H, and creating new ones as well. More than 40 locations across our state house faculty, staff, laboratories and learning spaces.

Making directly serves the three signature areas of our university focus:

- Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems

- Improving Human Health and Wellness

- Promoting Economic Growth and Social Progress

How are you approaching maker education with your current or future curricula?

Making figures prominently across the OSU curricula - and has for decades. This activity is happening not only in traditional locations, like fabrication spaces and laboratories, but also in new hybrid course designs for the classroom, a variety of civic and community engagement, living-learning communities for our students, student group/club activity, and faculty and graduate student research.

What are the key programs, initiatives or classes that support the development of maker skills?

Maker skills at OSU are supported at all levels of the university community. A sampling of these include:

  • A wide variety of Robotics and Fabrication labs within the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering School (e.g. Machining and Product Realization Lab, mLab, the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, and more)
  • The Co, an annual maker conference and celebration, hosted by OSU and the City of Corvallis
  • The OSU Craft Center
  • The Renewable Materials programs (and its Art & Design focus) within the College of Forestry’s Wood Science unit.
  • Numerous courses within the School of Design and Human Environment
  • Create@OregonState, a coalition of faculty and citizens focused on interdisciplinary, creative work
  • ENG370 - Creative Collaboration - Designing Public Art Work
  • The Ideation Lab and the Weatherford Garage in the College of Business’s Austin Entrepreneurship Program
  • The CreateIT Collaboratory within the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • The open source presentations and opportunities found at the annual Beaver BarCamp (now in its 16th year)
  • OSU’s Open Source Lab
  • The College of Engineering Hawley-Buxton Living Learning Makerspace
  • The Solar Vehicle Team
  • Twice a year Repair Fairs put on by Campus Recycling and the Student Sustainability Coalition
  • Food Innovation Center in Portland
  • Statewide Wood Innovation Center supported by the OSU Extension Service in the College of Forestry
  • and many more!

How are your students involved in making? Are there maker groups or organizations on campus organized by students?

Students drive much of the maker activity as OSU - as they should! OSU’s 3D Printing Club, Robotics Club, many engineering and computer science groups, Engineers Without Borders, the Food and Fermentation Science Club, the Montage art collective, the Music Production collective, the Solar Vehicle Team, and many more both contribute their energy and ideas to maker projects. 

Give a snapshot overview of the primary facilities, technologies and tools that campus makers have or will have access to?

Makers at OSU have a broad range of facilities and tools at their disposal. OSU itself - both in its Corvallis campus location and its statewide network offers an array of workshops, labs, classrooms, and special events.  

How does your school engage with the maker community at large?

Formal and informal partnerships with local and statewide maker groups, including Benton County Library (Teen Maker Clubs), the Corvallis Area Makers group, and a broad network of makers throughout the Willamette Valley’s “Creative Corridor” running from Portland to Eugene. The maker community is itself a part of some of the maker programming we offer on campus.  

What partnerships (informal or formal) do you have with makers and/or community organizations outside of campus?

OSU as a maker campus has broad connections throughout our home town of Corvallis and the state of Oregon. In addition to the 15 agricultural experiment stations, 35 county extension offices, the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and the OPEN campus network that are part of OSU itself, we have connections to municipal, civic, arts-based, economic development, and many other types of groups throughout our state. 

What has been the impact of maker culture on your campus?

We feel the culture of making captures what it means be a true part of the OSU community. In many ways, maker culture has helped us define and shape processes and objectives that have existed for a very long time here. In other words, in Beaver Nation, we make things. Uniting under the label of “maker” allows for our campus communities to share ideas, tools, and stories across traditional firewalls and . Engineers and artists have come together in new ways, as have Extension agricultural specialists and hackers, community members and local high school robotics clubs,  

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

The innovations across our engineering, business, arts, and many other programs all reflect the maker spirit at OSU.

The Co is a bold recent step in this direction. Part maker faire and part academic gathering and forum, The Co brings together makers of all ages from across campus, Corvallis, and the whole State of Oregon to celebrate and share their methods for hands-on learning. From the creative problem solving skills so crucial to education in the 21st century to the benefits of quick prototyping tools needed to drive an innovative economy, every discipline and every individual has something to learn and something to teach.