The Makerspace is a joint effort between the College of Engineering, NSF I-Corps, and the LaunchPad Incubation program to provide a dedicated space for students, faculty, and incubation clients/startup companies to develop ideas into prototypes.
The space is available to UT students, faculty, staff, and startup companies participating in LaunchPad Incubation’s program and is available for use during normal business hours.
The Makerspace includes two Makerbot 3D printers, one tabletop CNC machine, a table top laser cutter, sewing machines, and various hand tools. Although not considered “tools” per se, the Makerspace also offers a 24’ assembly table, 3 conference tables with white boards, and a conference area with whiteboards.
At this time there is not a fee for individuals to access the space; it is subsidized by a NSF I-Corp Grant, the UT LaunchPad Incubation program and the College of Engineering.
The space is managed by LaunchPad Incubation and it is staffed by a fulltime college of engineering intern and supported by the UT Maker Society student group. Oversight is provided by the College of Engineering and LaunchPad Incubation.
The UT Maker Space features 3D printing and design workshops on a regular basis. Users of the Makerspace are also individually trained on all equipment before they are permitted to use the equipment.
Training programs and workshops take place in the Makerspace. In addition, student design groups and classes are permitted uses of the space, including Freshman Design and Senior Design student groups. As this is a new space, we have not yet developed workshops or events; however, these will be in the works. Because of the Makerspace’s location within LaunchPad Incubation’s facility, we will have opportunities to participate in events such as tenant seminars and hackathons and promote awareness and education about the Maker culture and its relevance to the innovation ecosystem. Additionally, there is growing momentum of the Maker culture in our region, so we are in the initial stages of identifying and reaching out to corporate partners and others in the community interested in the Maker culture and plan to be the lead resource for this larger community conversation.
Additionally, the Makerspace at LaunchPad Incubation serves as the headquarters for the University of Toledo Maker Society student organization. The group uses the makerspace for meetings, group build nights and activities, and as a resource for completing individual projects, or smaller collaborative projects within the organization.
The Makerspace provides training and access to the community partners including workshops that will be open to the public. We also invite those in the community who are interested in starting their own Makerspaces to see what we provide to students, faculty, staff and startup companies. The Makerspace’s location in the incubation facility allows for access to the startup community at UT, which increases awareness and helps nurture the Maker culture. The joint partnership with NSF I-Corps also builds awareness of the Maker community by encouraging students and faculty from other colleges, such as the College of Business and innovation, to learn more and participate. Now that the Makerspace is up and running, we are beginning to promote the culture across campus, in places such as to the College of Communication and the Arts, as well as with potential corporate partners who have a vested interest in innovation and the Maker culture. Hosting trainings and events and nurturing relationships across campus and within the Northwest Ohio community will help to develop and sustain the Maker community.
We are still in the development phases of launching the Makerspace; initial challenges included finalizing the layout, equipment purchases, developing consistent and clearly communicated operating and safety procedures, staffing, and access levels.
Learn from other successful Makerspaces and programs and use a cross disciplinary team when defining the space and requirements.