Campus Maker & Innovation Space

ITS is pleased to announce a new initiative in bringing together education and technology. As you know, ITS is committed to providing current and emerging technologies to invigorate intellectual inquiry and collaboration across conventional academic boundaries. This fall, we will open a new Maker/Innovation Space next to the Language Resource Center in the south terrace level of Chambers to do just that. We are tremendously excited by this project and the opportunities it will provide for students, faculty and staff, so we wanted to take a moment to tell you more about it.

What Is A Maker/Innovation Space?

Under any of its various names (Makerspace, Innovation lab, Hackerspace, Hacklab), a maker space is generally a community-oriented workspace designed to encourage exploration, experimentation and collaboration among people with common interests, usually technologically-oriented. More succinctly, it's a place designed to help people think in new ways, and to give them tools to realize their ideas in creative and inventive ways.

How Will The Space Operate?

In broad terms, Davidson's new Maker Space will run like a startup, open to new ideas as well as emerging technologies. The space will be geared toward experimentation, open not only to technologies with direct and predictable applications to curricula but also to experimental ideas and unproven technologies. Three basic terms will define its operation: open, engaged and experimental.

User output from the space will be publicly documented and the Maker Space staff will maintain an active online dialogue to engage the campus at every opportunity.

Who Will Operate The Space?

Brian Little, ITS Computing Support Analyst, will manage the space, serving as the primary point of contact and coordinating the space's development. Over time, we will work to add students who can help run the space as well.

What Tools and Services Will Be Available?

We are looking to make the space as broadly functional as possible, within the limits of the location. Our current plans call for a broad array of tools and technologies:

Physical computing

In the beginning, the space will work as a "starter kit" environment for physical computing. A variety of Arduino boards and shields will be available, along with common components and a kit of basic projects to help people learn to use them. Credit-card computers like Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone will be available, again with basic project documentation.

This category of resources will also include sensors and data acquisition devices like Twine, Ninja Blocks, Automatic, and Wimoto.

Code/soft computing

The space will compile and maintain a wiki directory of resources for coding, including tutorials, reference materials, and applications (for example, a how-to for creating and using a free GitHub repo). Workstations and devices will be available to demo these resources (Xcode, Pythonista, CodeAcademy, etc.).

Interfaces

The space will provide demonstration models for new and unusual or innovative human interface devices, including Thalmic Myo, MaKey-MaKey, and LeapMotion USB.

Imaging

The space will offer user-loanable models of new, innovative or particularly useful imaging devices, such as the Lytro and GoPro HERO.

Fabrication

The space will function as a test bed and implementation center for new fabrication tools, including 3D scanning and printing, and eventually expanding to include laser cutting and soft materials milling. In the vein of encouraging general creativity and three-dimensional thinking, a set of LEGO bricks will be available, along with copies of LEGO Digital Designer software, as well as a sampling of Sifteo cubes.

Aerial Tools

The space will provide access to a broad variety of aerial platforms for learning flight systems and deploying aerial imaging tools and sensors (UAVs and the like).

Music

The space will offer demonstration units for new music tools, including looping decks like Tabletop for iPad, iOS MIDI interfaces, and new or unusual software for mobile music development.

Resource Directories

The space will compile and maintain directories of additional resources: 3D printing services, machining and production services, local hackerspaces, development guides, etc.

We are incredibly excited about putting this together for everyone on campus to use and enjoy, and the best part is that all of this is just a beginning. We want the space to grow, change and adapt itself over time.

An open house announcement will be sent out early in the fall semester inviting the campus community to stop by once the space is ready.

We welcome your participation and encourage you to contact Brian Little or Mur Muchane with your thoughts and questions.