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

By its very nature “Maker Culture” is continually morphing and itself redefining what it means to “make.” With that in mind the University of Florida defines it flexibly, generally defining it as meaningful exploration through the design and iteration of physical, digital or other artifacts.

How does your institution foster maker culture?

In the broadest sense the University of Florida fosters maker culture by:

  • Offering world class hands-on curricula, experiences, and access to rapid prototyping and other making-centric facilities
  • Providing institutional spaces like the Engineering Innovation Institute, WARPhaus, Innovation Academy to encourage collision, imagination, fragmentation and recombination of disciplines and approaches
  • Holding competitions and events like UF SEA Change (Science, Engineering and the Arts) and CASE Events (Creativity in the Arts and Sciences Event) as well as hack-athons and various other convenings

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

Both Engineering and Arts curricula have shifted dramatically in the last decade to support making-centered pedagogical practices.

Through the Engineering Innovation Institute in conjunction with the Prototyping Lab, for example, students are given the opportunity do design and create directly. Further, over the past few years 3D Printing is being worked into the curriculum at an expedited schedule. Now, we do not just design and optimize parts, we manufacture and test them. This is invaluable to the learning process and assists with the engagement of students. University of Florida’s “Powering the New Engineering” Initiative specifically trains the next generation of Engineers to be innovative, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial leaders. 

Though the Arts have always been iterative and hands-on in their pedagogies, in the last decades, particularly at the University of Florida, the College of the Arts has increasingly integrated transdisciplinary approaches that support creative activity at the edges and beyond and fosters exactly those same characteristics noted above to a wide cross-section of students in and out of the Arts – including many of those New Engineers – through its Interdisciplinary Arts Minor, several programs in Art + Technology, bachelors and graduate programs in Digital Arts and Sciences, and variety of other offerings.

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

In addition to those listed above, the University of Florida’s Innovation Academy aims to teach the innovation skills that drive Maker Culture. It is a groundbreaking living/learning community that pulls unique students from ore than 30 majors into a spring-summer cohort filled with energy and collisions that become ideas and one common minor: Innovation. One of the nation’s most forward-looking undergraduate programs, Innovation Academy gives motivated students focused training in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, ethics and leadership through curricular and co-curricular opportunities. 

Along with Innovation Academy, Unversity of Florida’s Infinity Hall at Innovation Square will be the nation’s first Entrepreneurial-based living/learning community.

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

Maker Culture is notoriously grass-roots and, consequently, not as keen on centralized institutional organization as other forms of student activity. As a consequence, much of the Maker Culture occurs within and across other already-established Student Organizations at the University of Florida, including:

  • Digital Arts Media Network
  • STEAM Academy
  • Audio Engineering Society
  • Digital Assembly
  • Sonic Computing Organization
  • The Art & Science Collaborative
  • VoxGraphis
  • Students for the New Urbanism
  • SolarGators
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Game Makers Guild
  • Design-Build Construction Team

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

In addition to studios and other labs, the University of Florida offers:

3d Prototyping Lab: free to all Engineering Students to come and 3D print any project they are working on at no cost. The faculty assists any student with locating additional resources within the University encouraging them to “Just Make It”. 

The A2 FabLab: offers 24/7 access to students to later cut, Engrave and Prototype with their Full color 3d Printing capability.

The Nexus Building (Expected to be completed Late 2016): will house a full access Prototyping lab available to all engineering students. Prototyping Equipment will consist primarily of CNC Machining, 3D Printing, PCB manufacture, Laser cutting, water jet cutting, and Software Development Rooms. This building will be located in the heart of campus and will provide the student body a window into what the Makers are making (Hopefully Encouraging more involvement)

Digital Worlds Institute: includes programs in academic, research and service areas to develop and inform the convergent spaces between the Arts, Communications and Engineering. This is where students engage in serious and applied gaming environments among other work and tools.

WARPhaus: is a progressive learning environment, meeting place, and artist-run gallery space where students, faculty, and visiting artists may collectively view and exhibit art, collaborate, experiment, and explore all facets of art production and exhibition planning WARPhaus immediately offers students opportunities, exposure, exhibitions, knowledge, and hands-on experiences shared by all working professional artists.

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

Gainseville has an unusually large Maker community. There are several facilities that foster a maker mentality including:

Florida Tech Toybox - This is an independent, open to the community at large facility hosted at the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center (GTEC). FTT gives the community access to CNC-Mills/Lathes, Woodworking, Screen Printing, MEMS Tech, Electrical prototyping etc… 

The HackerSpace - This Facility acts as a sort of community basement prototyping lab. Members are free to come and go as they please with 24/7 access. This lab is stocked primarily with electrical prototyping equipment but also provides a creative environment for collaboration. The hackerSpace is frequently used as a meeting place for the many Startup and Innovation competitions.

The Hackerhouse - 8 Innovators are provided a free room to live together and develop there ideas in a collaborative environment. The are given access to the resources mention above and are given monitoring sessions with the successful leaders within the Gainesville startup community.

Innovation Hub - Through the Universities Innovation Hub Incubator ( Local startups are given access to a variety of resources and a collaborative workspace that fits their needs. The have access to mentors that have done it before, and are guided through the startup process.

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

The University of Florida is also a founding partner in the Alliance for the Arts in Research University (a2ru), and has active participants in the SEAD and XSEAD networks among other formal bodies.

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

While early in the process, the installation of 3D printers in the College of Engineering has already inspired faculty and students towards creative thinking and design. For example, one faculty member has encompassed a class project around all students printing a design for critique. As the printing facilities expand in scope, we anticipate more faculty and student teams accessing them.

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

GrooveShark - A web streaming service that allows its users to stream over a billion sound files per month to its 20 million registered users. (

SpinChill - A portable Rapid cooling device that allows someone to take a warm beer/pepsi and cool it down in under 30 seconds. (

Paracosm - “3D-ify the world” using revolutionary hardware and software. (

Filistruder - A consumer grade, inexpensive 3d Printer Filament maker (

Altavian - A stable, user friendly drone used for Arial making with both consumer and Military applications (

Immersed Games: A video-game startup geared toward environments to encourage learning and prosocial behaviors (