Tag Archives: makerspace management

Gender in Makerspaces

We’ve been finding more and more reports of gender imbalances in makerspaces. This is something we’ve been conscious of since we built our space, so we’ve taken various approaches to attempt to create a space that’s inviting to all genders and non-binary folks.

  • Mixture of technologies- Our makerspace contains equipment that has been traditionally gendered male, such as the soldering station, 3D scanners, 3D printers, as well as those that have been traditionally gendered female, such as the sewing machine, quilting tools, and the Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter (which is commonly used as a scrapbooking tool). Our hope has been that by having all of this equipment in the same inclusive space, those who may have been reluctant to use something they may have originally thought wasn’t for them, will realize that these are tools for everyone.
  • Mixture of making- While we are big fans of 3D printing- electronic technology-assisted making is not the only kind that happens in our space. We have a table of painting supplies right by the entry of the space, coloring and drawing supplies on a cart outside the space, as well as collage supplies available to use.
  • Mixture of people- Our space and the student makerspace club are led by people with a mixture of gender identities.
  • Mixture of academic disciplines- We try really hard to include all academic areas of study when reaching out to faculty and students to use our makerspace. We’ve worked with a pretty wide range of courses and are actively pursuing more.
  • Mixture of decor- It might sound trivial to some, but the look of a space can create a gendered feel. We’ve attempted to add signage and decorations that are welcoming to all and that represent a wide range of tastes and visual preferences.

Future goals

We’re going to try harder to bring in more academic disciplines- especially those that do not traditionally work with technologies. We also plan to reach out to diversity-oriented student organizations and committees. In regard to makerspace tools and supplies, we plan to work with more fiber arts (including yarn crafts and 3D printing on fabrics) and come up with a wide variety of examples for use when we get our laser cutter.

Further reading

Maker Culture Has a ‘Deeply Unsettling’ Gender Problem” by Stephen Noonoo

An Exploration of Women’s Engagement in Makerspaces” by Vanessa Bean

Makerspace Updates for Winter Term

Signs with QR code and shortened URL to 3D printer reservation forms and calendars were placed near each printer.

We have a few exciting updates for the makerspace for winter term.

  • Reserving 3D printers: We’ve implemented a much easier method that uses a combination of Google Forms, the add-on Data Director for Forms, and Google Calendar to reserve the 3D printers and display availability. QR codes and shortened URLs placed near each printer are helping students to quickly see what’s available and make reservations.
  • Makerspace Club updates: The student makerspace club has been paired with a child in need of a prosthetic hand through e-Nable and has begun planning the creation of the custom prosthetic.
  • GlowforgeWe’ve placed our order for a Glowforge laser cutter and hope to receive it this summer.
  • Winter term training: Open training sessions are scheduled for Mondays at 2:30 pm and Thursdays at 11 am.
  • New furniture and space reorganization: We’ve moved some stuff around to make student projects in process storage more visible- and we’re trying out stools on wheels for more flexible seating. Let us know what you think!

    Our mini soldering station with the new rolling stool. We may fill the space with these.

    Bookshelf near the makerspace entrance for student projects in process.

Academic Library Makerspace FAQs

We get asked questions about setting up an academic makerspace by colleagues from other libraries and universities fairly often, so we thought it would be helpful to compile these into a list!

How did you fund your makerspace?

The large pieces of equipment were purchased from a grant from the ACM. Smaller pieces such as the Silhouette Cameo and sewing machine were added as money became available from the library media budget. The minor space renovation was covered by the campus administration. Our Technology Services department has been very helpful in covering upgrades for our makerspace 3D design computers.

Do you charge students for filament/3D printing?

No, we don’t pass any of the makerspace costs on to our students. We’ve been able to cover costs for consumables with funding from our grant and the library media budget. We are hoping that students who want to use the makerspace equipment for many or large non-academic projects will work with the makerspace club to pay for consumables. The club is still in its early stages of planning and budget creation.

Matt Sonnenberg from the UW Stevens Point library came up with a pricing model that bills students directly to their student accounts. He came to visit us to talk about 3D printing in libraries and talks about it in his presentation. The UWSP library does have a different printing model, however, in that they do the printing for the students.

Do you 3D print for students/faculty/staff?

Only rarely. Our major goal for the makerspace is to provide access to the whole process of making- from design to a finished object. We train anyone who is interested in 3D printing how to use the printers and offer assistance when needed.

Is the space available for non-academic use?

While the purpose of the makerspace to support students’ academic work, students are permitted to do small non-academic projects. We feel that any exposure to the equipment and software in the makerspace is educational and a great experience. We’ve also observed that many students return later to use the makerspace for a senior capstone or honors project, or when they’ve thought of a way to use the equipment for a course assignment.

Who works in your space?

The space is managed by a librarian, training and machine maintenance responsibilities are shared between the librarian and an instructional technologist. A student media assistant will provide machine maintenance and troubleshooting on occasion, but usually works with the non-makerspace equipment located in the shared space. A committee of faculty and staff meets occasionally to share new ideas related to the makerspace and coursework.

What equipment is in your space?

See our equipment and tool list and our guide for lists and information about our equipment.

How do people access your makerspace?

Students, faculty, and staff must attend a training session to gain card access to the space. Only those who have attended a training session are permitted to use the equipment. Training sessions are offered during set times during the week as well as when requested, such as during class time for professors who bring in a whole class.

Who uses the space?

This list of assignments gives a pretty good overview of the multidisciplinary use of our space. Statistics compiled between fall term 2015 and winter term 2017 (we have trimesters here) are available to view. It’s available for the whole campus.

Do you gather statistics?

The statistics are gathered by recording class usage and assignments, as well as asking individual student users to indicate their intentions for using the space and course subject of assignment. General usage statistics are gathered by having users add to a machine-specific usage log each time they use the machines.

How do you work with students/professors?

We do outreach through open houses, workshops, word of mouth, social media, etc. to spread the word across campus. We invite professors to meet with us to talk about ways to integrate the makerspace equipment into their courses- or just to send students to us who they think could benefit from the makerspace for an assignment or senior project. We also work with individual students who want to use the space for a project.

How big is your makerspace?

About 460 square feet. It is a re-purposed space that still contains our old media center digital converting equipment and much of the space’s original furniture and cabinetry. It seemed very “makery” to use what we had available along with some creativity to build our first makerspace.

How do students reserve the equipment?

Each piece of reservable equipment has an Outlook calendar. Students sort of make appointments with the equipment when they need to use it. This works well because these appointments have to be approved by the makerspace manager- who can then alter the times, ask questions, or make suggestions. It is a little tricky for the students to figure out and doesn’t allow for easy to access or embedded calendars. We’ve been looking into possibly using youcanbook.me like the ACU Maker Lab or LibCal.

What software do you use?

The software we work with in the makerspace is listed on our guide. Mostly, everyone uses Tinkercad for design and Cura for slicing. Some students have advanced from Tinkercad to Fusion 360. Like Tinkercad, it’s an AutoDesk product, but it’s not totally free. They do offer a free educational license for 3 years. It seems to work pretty seamlessly with Tinkercad too. We have used Meshmixer to try to modify and repair scans (like an MRI scan a professor brought in) with some success.

The non 3D printing software is mostly proprietary stuff that came with each piece of equipment. For example, Silhouette Studio for the Silhouette Cameo cutter, Scanify for the Fuel 3D Scanner.

Still have questions? We might have answered it in our presentation at LibTech 2017. If not (or if you just want to talk about makerspaces) we’d be happy to chat with you! Just send us an email or give us a call at 920-832-6700.

What Happens After You’ve Set Up an Academic Makerspace?

Thinking of setting up an academic makerspace?  Back in March, we presented on just that at LibTech: The Library Technology Conference at Macalester College. Take a look at our slides and notes– it’ll be almost like you’re there!

A very abbreviated version of this presentation was delivered at the WAAL 2017 conference lightning round.