Resource:How to create a 100% student run makerspace

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 WikiGuide: How to Create a 100% Student Run Makerspace


Meet Nathan LaWarre, a student from Western Michigan University. Nathan is an active student on his campus and like many
Nathan UIF Profile.JPG
students from different universities, he is interested in bringing people from interdisciplinary backgrounds together. With his strong interest in creating an environment where students can ideate, build projects and learn, Nathan and his club, Innovation Club, created this collaborative work space at his university known as a “makerspace.”

As a creative and innovative work space, a makerspace is an accessible place where students are able to use multiple tools and resources. Whether it’s making your project idea come to life or learning a different skill, makerspaces give students the creative freedom to explore and produce tangible objects. In a student run makerspace, only students are responsible for managing and utilizing the facilities. For Nathan, creating a student run makerspace meant working with the right people and consistent planning in order to execute their vision for a successful work space.

How to get started

  1. Get inspired and Get Involved
    1. Does your campus have a makerspace already? If so, try and get a position and help out! Nathan was able to help his makerspace by taking the lead on social media. He used that as a tool to get the space's name out to students and keep them updated. The first step to turning your makerspace into a student run makerspace is you and the energy and time you will bring to the group.
  2. If you need a space, you’re gonna have to work hard but don't be discouraged!
    1. Talk to faculty at your university and ask them for opinions and advice. Often times they can point you in a good direction
    2. Make a list of what you want to see in that space and dream big! 3D printers, machine equipment, project supplies like popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, or hand tools and raw materials, at this stage don't let the budget be a deterrent. Think about what students will use and how it will benefit them. Here's a few items that Nathan found important for building his space:
      Arduino Mini Computers
      3d Printers
      Raspberry Pis
      Hand Tools
      4-5 Computers
    3. Find the proper building for your space. What will studentsbe doing in your space? Doing homework, hanging out, building large-scale projects?
      1. Finding an appropriate room is a key step in creating an atmosphere that enables the activities you envision. You can run data on the availability of rooms on your campus in order to propose a space that you think is least utilized. Networking with organizations that you think might have unutilized space is also an excellent option (like libraries). Planning for extra space is a good idea, as it will give your users room to move around, and your makerspace room to grow. (How big do you think your makerspace will need to be in 5 years?) Nathan would like to see his space grow to around 1600 sqft in his five-year plan.
      2. Consider holding events in your space - students will learn where you are and faculty may be more inclined to support
      3. Think of ways to benefit the whole university with your one space... It's challenging but ultimately will give your space more support (and more money). This could look like community betterment projects, human-centered problem solving using the tools in your new space, or even tutoring services at exam time that match your members' core competencies.
  3. Now it’s time for the hype.. Get people excited!
    1. Team up with professors and faculty who support what you are doing and you like to be around. Get them excited by sharing your passion and hopefully they can help fund your space through materials or equipment. Although you want your space to be student run, you need faculty involved for behind the scenes.
    2. A makerspace can be full of the greatest equipment and not used at all, that’s no good! In order to get students into your space you need to excite them. Get the word out!
      1. Is there a student organization fair soon? If so, get active in that! Hopefully, you have some funds available at this point that you could use to buy some little giveaways.. Freshman and people in general love giveaways!
      2. Recruit students from other disciplines that could help get the word out. This includes business, marketing, art, etc. Many will be excited to try out what they have been learning and will quickly jump on board.
      3. Nathan shared a little trick with us: Give people business cards that have just a date and location on them. Don't tell them about the space, just encourage them to be there. The suspense draws people in, and before you know it they'll be coming every day.
    3. Building a base of dedicated, excited users is the best strategy for finding volunteers for later. This may mean that you have to be present often in the early days of your makerspace. Your presence and excitement will rub off on the students that you draw in, and they will want to contribute too. Make sure to foster any ideas for improvement, or neat projects that they want to run. Giving students a stake in the space will build their personal investment and make them want to see it succeed.

What to consider

  1. People are using your space, so how do you get it to be student run?
    1. Create opportunities. Give students a stake in the space, offering extended access or benefits.
      1. At this point it is important to consider safety! If your space has machinery or anything dangerous talk to your supporting faculty. Train students in basic safety skills, and quiz them before letting them use equipment to make sure that they are prepared. Investigate the insurance situation for your makerspace, and consider adding an extra waiver stating that students have been trained and acknowledge the risks of the space.
    2. Try to get outside funding that will cover the cost of materials so that anything students do is free for them. Seriously, what student wouldn’t come learn how to use a 3D printer for free? It’s free!
      1. Funding can be achieved through grants, faculty, fundraising, or even crowdfunding. Think about starting a crowdfund that supports students and their projects - including your own!
      2. Offer workshops with guided projects to get people creative, and turn them loose on their own projects when they come to you with them. Sometimes the crazier the better, just make sure to get pictures so that you can share with others.
  2. Your makerspace will have mixed responses.
    1. Garnering enough support and interest isn’t easy. Your makerspace should be inclusive and open to everyone, no matter what their concentration.
      1. You might find many art, business or engineering students using this space primarily. Why not try collaborating with students or clubs/organizations from different majors and come up with project ideas that benefit the both of you? Or even offer lessons in an area that they are unfamiliar with, but are interested in learning more?
    2. Interdisciplinary work is a great life skill to learn, and If you help several departments with official school projects you can get money for your space, and ultimately for your own projects.
  3. What do you do if this thing gets big . . . really big
    1. ​If you generate enough positive response you may be able to become a recognized or official part of the university's practice
      1. ​Try to negotiate for your own building or dedicated space, again dream big.
      2. Make an effort to involve your work in the school's cirriculum, doing this will help you tap into major funding and resources not to mention the number of people who will be coming into your space.
      3. Make sure to keep up with safety guidelines and ensure that you are attentive of new rules you may be under as you expand. You will have a lot more people keeping a close eye on you as you grow.
    2. Tell the world about it!
      1. Be proud of your work. Advertise on your job profiles, and look for media outlets on campus or in the community to share the idea of your maker space.
      2. Sometimes companies will be willing to donate materials or equipment to your school, sometimes you can work with your school to offer them write offs for their donations, or honor them using plaques or advertising in your space.
    3. Keep Making cool stuff
      1. The more high quality, creative, problem-solving products that come out of your space the better. Keep good documentation and people will notice your work. This is what leads to jobs and interviews later on.
    Your Vision
    1. Have a strong reason to want a makerspace, an overall vision and plan.
      1. Creating a makerspace can have a long lasting impact on your college campus and for future generations of students. 
        1. In order to maintain and possibly expand your makerspace, continue working closely with faculty and students to ensure that the future of your makerspace will continue to thrive and be accessible to everyone.


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