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

A maker culture will conceive ideas and bring them into physical reality. This culture will value creativity and a “hands-on” approach to fabrication. The maker culture is interdisciplinary and involves STEM, visual arts, business, and education. The maker culture is not restricted to campus but is engaged in the local community, in the home, and in local businesses. Those within this culture are willing to think independently, be innovative, yet recognize responsibility. 

How does your institution foster maker culture?

YSU fosters the maker culture by providing mentorship and resources. We do this through initiatives such as Launch Lab and the Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (CIAM). We also encourage maker culture through weaving the technology and ideas into classroom experiences in various disciplines. In addition, themes such as open source and maker culture are explored in the Launch Lab and Beecher Center's Art and Technology lecture series.

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

YSU is in the process of creating a Manufacturing Engineering degree program. However, YSU is not waiting for that to happen. Maker education is being infused into courses such as Manufacturing Processes, Manufacturing Processes Lab, Systems Design and Analysis, and Human Factors Engineering. For the visual arts, maker education can be found in classes such as 3D design, sculpture, ceramics, digital design, and graphic design.  

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

Launch Lab is a new initiative to foster bringing concepts into reality. It involves providing the resources and environment for students to think creatively then fabricate these concepts. Launch Lab will have a makerspace/ideation space, but it will also leverage existing resources across campus such as CIAM, the machine shop, the foundry, the sculpture and ceramics studio labs. 3D design, ceramics, sculpture, digital design and graphic design courses all assist in developing problem solving skills in a variety of different media and formats. These studios encourage innovation and create an environment for students to push the boundaries and find unique solutions to ordinary and complex problems.

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

Students are involved in making through classes, projects, independent studies, undergraduate and graduate research, Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program research, and free time. Additionally, YSU recently established a student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers; an organization also involved with making. 

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

Campus makers have access to the following: Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing, Bliss Hall Metal Casting Foundry, STEM Machine Shop, Moser Hall 3D Printing Kiosk, Manufacturing Lab, Arts Sculpture Lab, and the Arts Ceramics Lab. Campus makers will also soon have access to the Launch Lab ideation space in the Beecher Center.

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

This summer, Youngstown started a Maker City Initiative. Being a maker is infused in our city’s history and in the region. YSU engages our local schools, non-profits, businesses, and institutions.

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

The Youngstown Business Incubator was named the #1 university affiliated business incubator in the world by the international UBI Index in Stockholm, Sweden. YBI helps YSU and the community translate maker ideas into business. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute is walking distance from campus. We also have a relationship with a community makerspace called the Oak Hill Makerspace. YSU is also currently working on both an ArtsPlace and an Our Town grant to expand the public-private partnerships between Youngstown, the creative arts, and the larger Mahoning Valley. The Department of Theater and Dance, which reaches upwards of 5000 non-student community members annually, is embedding the use of maker culture into its production processes through the faculty-led, student-driven ideation, design and execution of theatrical properties ranging from a replica German Luger to printed fried bacon props.

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

Impacts of maker culture on campus include: increased interest and enrollment in STEM and the CCAC Department of Art, cross-disciplinary projects between arts and engineering, business start-ups, and internships at America Makes and MakerBot, and translating “theory” into “practice” as part of the educational process.

What are the success stories relating to your maker culture?

Through our relationship with YBI, YSU students and recent alumni have started two companies in the area of 3D printing this past year. Another student has been making sci-fi and historical models for customers for several years and just purchased two 3D printers. A group of YSU undergraduates conducted research on complexity, customization, and quantity for 3D printing and their research contributed to a recent publication. 

Learn more about Making at Youngstown State University