June 9, 2014

Office of the President
Bucknell University
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 1783 7
Phone:570-577- 1511
Fax: 570-577-3369

Dear President Obama:

Bucknell University is a liberal arts institution in central Pennsylvania, serving a primarily undergraduate student body. We see Making as one path to integrate students, faculty and staff from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Management, Student Affairs, and Library & Information Technology, as well as capitalize on our residential living environment.

To foster making on campus, we've adopted an approach that we believe is a good model for other smaller schools that do not have the regional, space or financial resources of larger and more urban institutions. Our approach is to broaden the capabilities of and access to existing spaces on campus. This creates a variety of Makers spaces across campus, heightening the interdisciplinary nature of the space while maintaining the original stewardship and in-house expertise in those places.

Current main Makerspaces:

  • Mooney Innovation Lab (College of Engineering): Standard hand-tools, some power tools, 3D printing, reserveable tables and lockers, and proximity to the Project Development Lab (more traditional shop space).
  • Art Barn Sculpture Studio (Art and Art History): Extensive wood and metal shop tools, 3D printer, Shop-Bot.

Current smaller spaces:

  • Digital Scholarship Center (Library and Information Technology): 3D printer and 3D scanner, along with CAD software. This is intended as a space for those not fully comfortable with the tools or technology to learn more in a low-risk environment.
  • Student Engineering Consulting Lab (Small Business Development Center): 3D printer and 3D scanner, along with CAD software. Engineering student interns assist local entrepreneurs and small businesses, including student startup ventures, to prototype and develop new products.

Upcoming Makerspaces (20 15):

  • Bucknell University Makerspace (Craft Center): Building on the current Craft Center space for student creation, we will broaden the space and capabilities to include a laser cutter, 3D printer, 3D scanner, and hand tools while maintaining the traditional craft center capabilities in painting, pottery, sewing, silk-screening and small-scale woodworking. This space is seen as the new heart for Makers at Bucknell.
  • Electrical and Computer Fabrication Lab (Electrical and Computer Engineering): In addition to 3D printers, this Makerspace will feature the tools and materials needed to design and fabricate integrated circuits.
  • All of these spaces require appropriate training and safety precautions to use the tools. Each space will also have signage designating it as a Makerspace and directing Makers to the other available spaces on campus.

These efforts are empowering Makers on campus. But simply having available space and tools is insufficient. We also want to encourage members of our community who are already Makers and also cultivate the work of those who have never engaged in Making before. We want to foster a culture where it's cool to be in the Makerspace soldering with your friends on Saturday night. We call this our "Outside the Classroom" initiative, and it's deliberately non-curricular because what we' re seeking here is cultural. We want to cultivate Making, tinkering, and the intrinsic motivation and growth-mindset that accompanies these activities. The activities
included in this cultural initiative include:

  • Skills Workshops: Short, free, workshops open to the campus community that center on particular Making-related skills. These happen in the Makerspaces and in the residence halls, and work on skills such as soldering and working with composites. In August 2014, a week-long pre-semester Bucknell Fabrication workshop (B-FAB) will provide an intensive focused introduction to these skills, culminating with a personal project.
  • Extracurricular Project Fund (aka "Nifty Idea Fund''): We want students to be able to create interesting projects in the Makerspaces, but we recognize not all students have the funds to buy the needed materials. This fund allows students to apply for up to $500 in materials in order to realize their plans. One of the projects ("Prosthetic Hand") on the www.bucknell.edu/Maker website was funded through this source.
  • Design Competitions (funded by the Kern Family Foundation): These are one-to-three day long design jams for self-formed interdisciplinary teams of students. Students try to create and execute a design to meet a challenge in limited time with limited resources- for example, take a picture of an object that has been placed on top of the building.

We are very energized about the White House Maker Faire and the publicity it is bringing to this important idea. We at Bucknell are taking this opportunity to make it clear that when a student comes to us, they' ll get a substantive and challenging education, the opportunity to apply what they learn, as well as the environment and tools to help them pursue their own projects.

Sincerely yours,

John C. Bravman