What is Makerspace?
A Makerspace is essentially a hub for self-directed learning in which students are given hands-on access to cutting-edge technology and given the space to improvise. It’s a classroom that jettisons the typical chalkboard and neatly-arranged seats instead stocks the materials learners need to tinker, weld, sculpt, program, hack, and solder with abandon.
Use of a makerspace's resources is not confined to a single discipline or department. Originally an idea designed to give hackers and engineering students the space and technology they needed to achieve the unexpected, the Makerspace movement has since shown the kind of results that have caused it to be adopted throughout the tech industry and across countless college and university campuses.
The foundation of a makerspace is a set of communal tools and technology to which students, staff, and faculty have ready access. The equipment on offer can be relatively simple; saws, drills, gears, plastic, metal, and batteries are staples of any functioning makerspace. The skills that instructors typically impart before giving students free reign in the makerspace—soldering, welding, woodcarving, basic construction techniques— inevitably prove themselves to be invaluable assets at both the personal and professional level.
The hallmark of more recent makerspaces, however, is giving students the opportunity to experiment with the kind of groundbreaking technology that allows students to make their ideas the tangible. Makerspaces often come equipped with high-end 3d printers, laser cutters, and micro-controllers so that an innovative idea can make the transition from paper to testable prototype virtually instantaneously. The collaborative studio space minimizes the amount of time students spend doing repetitive tasks and encourages them—through trial and error— to internalize the kind of creative processes that power future innovation.
The Makerspace fuses the functions of a open well-stocked workshop with a hacker’s lair and as a result is built for interdisciplinary collaboration. Originally seen primarily as a tool for students with an aptitude for engineering, graphic design, or computer science, the concept has within the last ten years been eagerly embraced by the arts. In virtually every creative field, there will always be students who learn best by doing. By creating a unified space where computer scientists can bounce ideas’ off of would-be architects, the schools fosters the kind of collaborative environment that fosters creativity. The freedom to fail early and often in loosely structured environment that allowed students to tinker without fear of severe academic repercussions was yielding undeniable results.