A Holmes Hall 450 makerspace was created in response to student requests for dedicated space to work on EE design projects. The lab has been largely funded internally, but will also be supporting the UH involvement in the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) effort funded by the Helmsley Foundation and led by Georgia Tech. This 3 year effort brings together sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as graduate students, post docs, and faculty members to work on design projects centered on important research topics. The successful implementation of the space is largely due to EE faculty and staff including Dr. Shiroma, Dr. Najita, Dr. Malhotra, Dr. Ohta, June Akers, Liane Jackson, and Dustin Tanabe, as well as the Student Advisory Board including Bronson Edralin, Bryan Fewell, Jon Liang, Justin Yoshimoto, Kaleo Norman, Trevor Alexander, Zach Dorman, and Andy Pham.
The space is available to all students involved in a design course (Sophomore, Junior, or Senior Design Projects). Currently it is limited to EE students, but will be made available to ME students through the VIP program.
3D printing and PCB milling tools are available to students as well as general purpose soldering and prototype construction tools. The space allows students to meet and share their ideas, so it also includes desks, chairs, whiteboards, projectors, etc.
The space is supported by student lab fees, design project funds, and college and university funds for student-driven research projects.
The space is managed by EE faculty and staff. Specific tools in the space, such as the milling tool, are operated by a student technician.
Individual investigators can provide training and skills; however, much of the training is passed down from more senior students to more junior students.
The space is used daily for students working on their design projects. The space will house informational sessions on various making technologies and project demonstrations.
While still in its infancy, the makerspace has already lead towards excellent senior capstone design projects, which have been featured at the semesterly senior design presentations at the UH Campus Center. It is likely to garner continued growth in usage and expand to other departments in the College of Engineering.
There were numerous issues in developing the space including getting enough momentum from faculty and students, acquiring the necessary funds, and finding a physical location for the lab. The creation of this space was largely student-driven, giving them ownership and a stake in the space. Funding was made available through student lab fees, and several faculty members lobbied for this space to be made available.
Start with a small but useful space. As demand for the facilities grows, more equipment/capabilities/space can be added as needed. Trying to start off with too much at once will only lead to frustration.