Making space for innovators

Anthony Martinez, @mtppoto

Los Medanos College has been considering the potential for a makerspace department on campus. A makerspace is a location where students of various departments and majors can collaborate and create whatever is needed for their classes or find solutions for a community need. The makerspace would include a variety of fabricational machinery such as 3D printers, laser cutters, computer numerical control (CNC) routers and other precision tools.

Many colleges in the local area and abroad have already adopted a makerspace, or a digital fabrication lab, as part of their campuses.

“The idea is to be interdisciplinary,” says Lucy Snow from the art department. “It’s open ended… It’s always about making something.”

Anyone with a 3D model or idea could bring the concept into reality easily with a makerspace available on campus.

“You don’t know what’s possible until you think possibility,” says Eric Sanchez, one of the advocates for a makerspace.

Having a makerspace would help classes that aren’t already hands-on include more tactile learning, broadening the curriculum and providing another learning style to the classroom.

“What I want to see from a makerspace is students developing skill sets and complimenting skill sets that they may not be getting in a traditional lab or traditional classroom setting,” said Sanchez.

A program such as makerspace would give students the unique opportunity to have more of a hands-on experience to give them a better edge in their future careers.

Various departments including process-technology, MESA, automotive, nursing, engineering, art, graphics and biology have already shown an interest in establishing a makerspace for their own respective divisions. The welding department is already developing one.  

Joe Meyer, lead welding instructor, has already started planning a fabrication lab with a wider variety of tools for students to use than is already provided. However, many tools would require approval or designated space on campus before they can be implemented.

“It’s a fantastic learning experience,” said Meyer. He hopes that the project will help make “well-rounded students.”

While the general fabrication lab may not meet the specific needs of every student on campus, Meyer says it will be more open and could be used when class is not in session or if the other departments are closed.

Time and money are both needed to bring the idea to life, and LMC hopes to receive enough money to begin the project from either grants or loans. It may take a few more years, but as Meyer says, “the long term benefits far outweigh the cost.”