As of Jan. 31, the Swarthmore MakerSpace has moved to Whittier Hall Rooms 109-113. Originally launched in 2018, the MakerSpace was previously located on the ground floor of Beardsley Hall.
“We just moved into a space that we will probably permanently inhabit in Whittier Hall,” said MakerSpace director Mike Jones, “The Building Whittier was designed in such a way that the space is flexible, and none of the walls are structural. So the plan is, the summer after, to do a renovation and reconfigure some of the spaces for MakerSpace use.”
The new MakerSpace features a Digital Fabrication Lab and a Wood Shop. Current equipment includes 3D printers, laser cutters/engravers, sewing machines, waterjet cutters, drill press, sliding compound miter saw, bandsaws, combination sander, and more.
The MakerSpace sees use from a variety of students and faculty, for purposes ranging from academic to artistic.
“We’ve been doing things like helping the Biology department scan dolphin skulls and 3D print them, or the math department making tactile models of equations; those kinds of applications are what we want to help support,” said Jones regarding the use of the MakerSpace amongst different academic departments.
Jacquelien Tull, the newly hired MakerSpace Manager, appreciates the wide variety of students who make use of this space.
“The MakerSpace was originally out of the Art and Art History department’s need for having a sculpture workshop. But the proposal was that the facilities would be open to the campus-wide student body and also to campus and staff when not in use for the course. It’s a really great diversity of people that come through, and they have all kinds of different interests, maybe unrelated to their majors entirely. Sometimes, a student wants to make a shoe rack for their bedroom or a costume for Halloween” said Tull.
A Student Technician, Brandon Zunin ‘20, who was part of a board of students that oversaw the development of the original makerspace, recounted his own projects within the MakerSpace.
“I make furniture for my apartment, tables and chairs and benches and stuff. I’ve made a lot of fixtures and testing rigs for engineering projects. I’ve made some components for my motorbike. I’ve made a lot of gifts. One very easy thing which people love is laser engraved photographs onto wood,” said Zunin.
However, the MakerSpace contains room for further improvement. Tull looks forward to acquiring a new resin 3D printer, vinyl cutter, CNC router, sander, and silhouette (a machine capable of intricate paper cutting). In addition, Phase 3 construction would involve renovation on the first floor Engineering Shop, the creation of an inviting digital space, removing walls, an expanded woodshop space, and a metal shop.
Ultimately, Tull believes that the MakerSpace should be an inviting place.
“A place … where people can learn new skills and turn their ideas into physical objects that they can be proud of and that can inform their view of the world,” Tull said.
Interested students should consider attending the MakerSpace’s Wednesday Night Workshops, during which faculty, staff, and students teach fabrications skills including 3D printing, bicycle repair, as well as sewing, and woodshop safety.
Featured image courtesy of Rubing Zhang for The Phoenix