Universities have always had shops, science librarian Dean Walton says, but not a shop like this.
The new DeArmond MakerSpace in the Price Science Commons and Research Library, a manufacturing wonderland of 3D printers, scroll saws, laser cutters and more, is now open to students and instructors at the University of Oregon.
“What people needed were places to solder and places to 3D print,” Walton said. “We gave them those.”
The MakerSpace was made to give students — regardless of their majors or degree programs — a place to perfect their projects, professors a place to build better teaching materials, and staff a place to make materials for installations.
“A chemistry professor who wants to show different bond angles on a molecule might use our 3D printer to make a model,” Walton said. “The Museum of Natural and Cultural History could make copies of fossils because the originals are too fragile. A student could make a saddle, climbing gear or a backpack on our industrial sewing machine.”
Students who want to use the MakerSpace have to take a short safety test to get access to soldering irons, drill presses, digital magnifiers, cutting boards, Arduino microcontrollers, pop-rivet tools and more. More complicated equipment like laser cutters, 3D printers, industrial sewing machines, oscilloscopes and cutting tools do require students to go to training workshops.
Because Walton and the rest of the science library experts are still learning the equipment themselves, the MakerSpace hours are during times experts are likely to be around to answer questions and help.
“We now have a chance to learn and create with tools that we never had access to before,” Walton said.
—By Scott Greenstone, UO Libraries