Making Changes

June 15, 2015

Last year's White House Maker Faire has expanded into a week-long celebration of the maker movement — and once more Bucknell University is a leading participant.

The "Week of Making" is June 12–18 and coincides with the National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C.

"The National Week of Making provides a moment to focus on what we've done so far and the potential for even greater student engagement going forward," said Margot Vigeant, associate dean of engineering and the Robert L. Rooke Professor of Engineering. "The event shows a sustained commitment to deep engagement in education through use of projects, open-ended problems and the kind of hands-on learning at which Bucknell excels."

Making growth
"Making is important for colleges and universities because it's increasingly part of the high school and middle school experience," said Vigeant. "Five years ago, I had to explain 3-D printing to incoming first-year students. Now, they ask me what capabilities we have and how they can access them."

Making at Bucknell has grown significantly in the past year. In addition to continuing the Nifty Idea Fund, skills sessions, design competitions and leadership in the national Maker Schools Alliance, the University has formed a Maker Advisory Board to help support and promote making activities on campus.

"We are sharing our work on pedagogy and making in scholarly venues including the Union College Engineering and Liberal Arts Symposium and the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, as well as the on-campus faculty learning series," said Vigeant.

Bucknell faculty also took a student group to the World Maker Faire in New York City to share their work and network with other makers.

Making space
Existing maker spaces on campus have been improved, as well and new spaces are under construction.

Maker spaces thrive on collaboration across disciplines and experiences. They encourage an open atmosphere through the sharing of ideas and skills," said Gretchen Heuges, student media advisor, 7th Street Studio & Print Publications.

There's now a laser cutter in the Mooney Lab and a Shopbot in the sculpture lab. An electronics maker space will open in Dana Engineering in the fall semester. It will be a large, open room with a few defined spaces, including one for fabricating electronic circuits that will have soldering equipment, a device to put electronic components on a board, a 3-D printer and other similar items.

The electronics space will have a dedicated test and measurement area, as well as computers for CAD work and programming. A large open area will be reconfigurable for classes or labs, a conference room will feature video conferencing and an online catalog and locked room will make it easy for students to get and store the parts they need.

The 7th Street Studio, Bucknell's flagship campus maker space, will open at the end of the summer in what was formerly the Craft Center.

"7th Street Studio will offer students the opportunity to work with tools and materials ranging from traditional to high-tech," said Heuges.

In addition to existing equipment for pottery, mosaic, screen printing, painting and drawing, sewing machines, metalsmithing, a black-and-white darkroom and a kitchen, the new 7th Street Studio will feature 3-D printers and scanners, a laser cutter, vacuum former, a vinyl cutter, table-top woodworking tools and a bank of computers with computer-aided design software.

"For Bucknell as a liberal arts institution, making provides a marvelous opportunity to blend the arts, humanities and technology," said Vigeant. "It's going to be a real focal point for work between and across disciplines and enable the creation of some really cool stuff."