Colleges in the USA are getting constructive like never before. They love nothing more than encouraging their students to get together and get creative. And one of the key components of this creativity is the maker space. Many colleges now have dedicated environments where their students can gather, use technology and work on amazing ideas and products. But not all college maker spaces are created equal. Some leave a lot to be desired, while others excel. This article is going to highlight the best across the country.
What makes a maker space? It isn’t any one thing. There’s the cutting edge equipment, the comfortable environments, the innovative approaches to learning and other unique touches that are hard to define. This article looks at maker spaces in universities across the USA that incorporate all of these things.
Of course, there are different kinds of maker space for different students. An art student might need peace and quiet. But an engineering student will almost definitely need to be loud when making a new prototype. Therefore, this list looks at colleges that are able to cater for all kinds of students in different ways. That means colleges that have more than one maker space for different kinds of students perform stronger.
Any of the colleges in this list is a fine choice for a prospective student who wants to make products on their own, with other students and with faculty alike. The maker spaces in these colleges have things that all creative institutions should strive for. But it’s also possible that none of the colleges in the list is right for you. If that’s the case, then this article can still be useful. Each college entry has a detailed summary of what makes its maker space(s) so great. These have been included so that you can compare and contrast them with the creative and collaborative spaces in your own college options.
To understand the ranking process of this list, you need to understand how we’ve selected a college’s space as a “maker space.” Maker spaces are both an old and a new phenomenon, depending on how you define it. In terms of a space to collaborate in, any classroom in the world could technically be a maker space. But maker spaces as we know them today, as in a place where people get together with the purpose of working collaboratively to solve a specific problem, have a very definitive beginning. They date back to 1995 in Berlin. A group of people got together and tried to hack technology to do things that it wasn’t designed for. Over time, this evolved into groups that regularly met to create new solutions from cutting edge technology.
This article defines a college maker space as being something between a traditional classroom and a space where people meet up to use technology to create new solutions. They encourage creativity and novel approaches to global problems. A college needs to be able to do this with technologies, the arts, and its personal philosophy to be included in this list.
Therefore, the sources that comprise this article list college maker spaces that fall into the above definition.
The articles that we studied are as follows:
American Society for Engineering Education, A Review of University Maker Spaces: https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/53813/a_review_of_university_maker_spaces.pdf
Venturewell, Makerspace Masters: How Faculty Are Spurring Innovation on Campus: https://venturewell.org/makerspace-masters/
EdSurge, Futurizing the Stacks: How Makerspaces Can Modernize College Libraries: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-09-30-futurizing-the-stacks-how-makerspaces-can-modernize-college-libraries
EdTech, Making Makerspaces Work on Campus: https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2015/02/making-makerspaces-work-campus
KQED, What College Libraries Can Gain by Adding Makerspaces to Their Libraries: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/43581/what-colleges-can-gain-by-adding-makerspaces-to-its-libraries
Society for College and University Planning, Higher Education Makerspaces, Engaged Students, Hands-on Skills, Interdisciplinary Connections: https://seas.yale.edu/sites/default/files/imce/other/learning-by-design.pdf
Campus Technology, How to Create a Makerspace: https://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/11/18/how-to-create-a-makerspace.aspx
HermanMiller, Innovation Through Experience, Reshaping Learning Spaces for Makers, Hackers and Coworkers: https://www.hermanmiller.com/research/categories/white-papers/innovation-through-experience/
New Media Consortium, The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition: http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-HE-EN.pdf
After identifying the most impressive sounding college maker spaces on the above articles, we conducted extensive research into the colleges themselves to see that the maker spaces were as robust as the articles claimed.
The final list has been sorted as follows: evidence of providing space for a wide range of students, evidence of offering the best technology/equipment, evidence of commitment to future expansion, combined number of recommendations on the lists and evidence of innovation in creating a collaborative learning environment.
The results, from 50 to one, are below:
50. Columbia University
New York City, New York
One thing negatively affecting Columbia University’s ranking on this list is the fact that its primary maker space is moving for the fall of 2019. It is going to an as yet undisclosed location, making its square footage impossible to assess. However, the college has been able to demonstrate that its students have produced an impressive range of products in its maker spaces, from acoustic voxels to a phone controlled robot that shoots T-shirts. And after a Columbia University student graduates, they are still welcome to access the primary maker space, which can really help alumni get their projects off the ground. American Society for Engineering Education notes that the college has, to date, been able to accommodate a range of equipment, which is impressive, considering that it is based in Manhattan, New York City, one of the most cramped areas of the USA.
49. Boise State University
The best part of Boise State University’s maker space is that it is open to everyone on the campus. On top of this, the Makerlab gives those who use it “enough training to get started” with frequent instruction sessions and workshops. The space has gone a long way from when American Society for Engineering Education visited it. Back then, the maker space only had computers and whiteboards. But since this time, the area has added 3D printers, video production equipment, button makers, projectors and many practical tools. However, the open hours for the maker space are short, being from 1pm to 4pm Monday to Friday.
48. Fort Hays State University
Students who engage with the Fort Hays State University maker space get to participate in projects involving Lego robotics, rocket building, hydrogen fuel cell cars, computer programming and much more. However, the only downside to the space is that the opening hours are somewhat restrictive, being 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Thursday, 8 am to 11:30 am on Friday and closed on the weekends. Yet Edtech has noted that the faculty has made great used of the space. For instance, the source notes that the college’s education department has boosted preservice teachers’ knowledge of elementary science through using the equipment in the maker space.
47. Williams College
A key part of Williams College’s Center for Education Technology is its maker space. Fittingly, for a liberal arts college, the maker space has a very laid back approach to educating those who use it. For instance, the college recommends that the best way to start a project “is to stop by when the room is open and talk to one of the student staff.” Since it officially opened in 2014, the maker space in Williams College has come a long way. At first, it was mostly a 3D printer, a scanner and some computers. But today, there is a wide range of hardware and software, including an Oculus Rift.
46. University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
The maker space in University of Maryland’s McKeldin Library considers its users to fall into two categories: triers and hackers. Triers are able to access the Tryables program, which allows them to try out new technologies, such as virtual reality. Hackers are able to enroll in the Hackables program to try out equipment in a more hands on capacity, to push the limit of what it was designed for. There is also a maker space in the college’s STEM library, which currently has 3D printers and is investing in new equipment (however, there is a charge to use this equipment). American Society for Engineering Education cites University of Maryland as being one of the best examples of colleges that are turning library space into innovative collaboration space that encourages making.
45. Abilene Christian University
On Monday to Thursday, students can access Abilene Christian University’s Makerlab for almost 12 hours of the day, with its opening hours being 9 am to 8 pm. On Fridays it closes an hour earlier at 7pm. On Saturdays it is open from 10 am to 7 pm. But it is closed all of Sunday. In addition to the more typical maker space services of the Makerlab, the space also offers bike repair services and vacuum forming. 2019 marks five years since the Makerlab opened. To celebrate a half decade of the space, the college held Maker Fest, which encouraged members of the public to engage with the space and admire students’ work. New Media Consortium considers Abilene Christian University’s maker space to be one of the best in the country.
44. The Ohio State University
What’s really unique about Ohio State University’s maker space is that it moves. The Innovation Studio is a pop up maker space that sets up shop on different campuses in Ohio State University. It spends approximately two months in one location before being dismantled and moved to a new location. The Innovation Studio is run by the university’s College of Nursing. Because of this management, all of the work that goes on in the maker space is geared towards providing products and solutions in healthcare.
43. Houston Community College
IDEAStudio, Houston Community College’s most impressive maker space, stands for Innovation, Design Entrepreneurship, Arts & Sciences. True to its name, IDEAStudio is a space where all of those qualities come together. And the space is incredibly fluid. On top of making, the space also hosts film screenings, women entrepreneur panels, design tutorials from local makers and much more. The only downside to this space is that its opening hours are restricted to 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday. The college’s library also has a maker space that offers vinyl cutting, sewing, knitting/crochet, 3D printing, DIY/crafts, micro-controllers and button maker services. New Media Consortium features Houston Community College in its examples of strong college maker spaces.
42. Michigan Technological University
The Alley, Michigan Technological University’s maker space, is a 4,000 square foot area located in the basement of one of the college’s buildings. It immediately stands out from many of the other spaces, as it’s a renovated bowling alley! Inside this space is an impressive range of equipment, including 3D printers, drill presses, sewing machines and much more. The opening hours for this space are 3pm to 9pm Monday to Thursday. The space is entirely free for Michigan Technological University community members. But what has really impressed Venturewell is that The Alley has an equal 50/50 ratio of male and female users, something that many maker spaces cannot boast.
41. Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Almost anyone in the Syracuse University community can create something amazing for free at Syracuse University’s maker space. For instance, Yudaisy Salomon Sargenton is an administrative assistant at the college and created a NYC vs Chicago skyscraper chess set. Similarly, Oma Sakkim is an architecture student who created a set of glassware which featured her engraved drawings. The machines of the maker space are accessible from 10am to 8pm from Monday to Friday and 12pm to 6pm on weekends. American Society for Engineering Education considers Syracuse University to have an exceptionally wide range of equipment on offer.
40. University of California, Davis
There is one clear aim of University of California, Davis’s maker space: “to expose students from all majors to the startup world.” To make students fully immersed in this experience, all of the equipment in the Student Startup Center maker space is free to use. However, the center is also more than a maker space. It offers networking, mentorship, pitch presentation and many other opportunities. If this weren’t good enough, then the college also offers students that want to start a startup with seed capital and the chance to win prize money of up to $5,000. American Society for Engineering Education recommends the University of California, Davis’s maker space.
39. University of South Florida
The way that University of South Florida’s maker space, X Laboratory, works is through creating project teams led by engineering students who collaborate with non-engineering students. In addition to this grouping, faculty members support the teams. The maker space is generally open from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays, but students are able to stay in the maker space until 8 pm on these days, if they wish. The lab is also staffed on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm. American Society for Engineering Education highlights that University of South Florida’s maker space is both faculty run and has specific staff just for the space, meaning that students can often access assistance in their projects.
38. Davidson College
Davidson, North Carolina
When the leadership at Davidson College opened their maker space, Studio M, in 2013, they didn’t anticipate just how quickly it would grow in popularity and capability. One of the reasons why this college’s maker space is so popular is because it openly offers students an opportunity to do something safely that they would otherwise be scared of: fail. That’s because the space sees failure as a step toward succeeding. Therefore, what they make in the space does not have to undergo the fear of being submitted as part of coursework. The opening hours of this maker space are from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 7 pm to 9:30 pm Sunday to Thursday.
37. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
The maker space at Princeton University, StudioLab, has the 3D printing, laser cutting, robotic and other facilities that most people would expect from a collaborative space. But it also has several unique elements, such as dance flooring and thematic social justice hackathons. The college also runs The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, which is open to all students who want to become leaders in a technology driven society. This center has an emphasis on entrepreneurship and helps students with securing funding, finding internships and interacting with experienced entrepreneurs. Princeton University appears in American Society for Engineering Education’s study of maker spaces.
36. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Urbana Champaign, Illinois
The Illinois MakerLab at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign was the world’s first 3D printing lab to be based in a business school. Since it opened in 2013, the lab has come to possess more than 20 3D printers. It also has opened two satellite maker spaces. These two satellite labs are based in the west of Chicago and the south of Illinois. The college has also opened Health MakerLab, which is based in the college’s medicine school. This lab encourages students and citizen scientists to work together to create solutions to health challenges. In fact, the only limit to improving health in the space is imagination, the college states. American Society for Engineering Education praises the way in which University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign allows people from outside of its college community to contribute to its maker environments.
35. California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo
In California Polytechnic State University’s maker space, Innovation Sandbox, the words “can’t do it” are taboo. The room is also often filled with passionate students who are working on amazing projects. In 2018, thanks to the educational approach taken by Innovation Sandbox, the college was named as being one of the 25 best examples of excellence in educational innovation by Mission and Vemo. However, in 2019, the college opened a second maker space, Manufacturing Lab. This 4,100 square foot space helps students commercialize the products that they want to develop. In addition to 3D printing, woodworking and metalworking tools, students also have access to a ceramics studio, music lab and more.
34. Carnegie Mellon University
Most of the facilities in Tech Spark, Carnegie Mellon’s largest maker space, are open from 9:30 am to 11:59pm Monday to Thursday and 9:30 am to 9 pm Friday to Sunday. In this area are a cluster of 30 computers, an assembly of power tools and hand tools, a fab lab of 3D printers, laser machines, electronics stations, a metalshop of knee mills, manual lathes, CNC mills and a proshop of support for prototyping. American Society for Engineering Education lists Carnegie Mellon University as having a strong maker space.
33. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
New Media Consortium commends the way that West Virginia University’s Media and Innovation Center has blurred the lines between media production and practical design. While this building has a room assigned as a maker space, many other areas also serve to aid students in their making. For instance, there are huddle rooms, the digital storytelling hub and more over 10,000 square feet of space. However, West Virginia University is also constructing a whole new maker space, this time focused upon students who are studying in the STEM fields. This space will be 6,000 square feet
32. Johns Hopkins University
Students who have a passion to bring their ideas to life have strong support at Johns Hopkins University. That’s because its primary maker space gives priority access to personal projects that are not related to coursework or grant funding. And students who want to work on these passion projects have plenty of time to do so, as the maker space has 24/7 access. Staff members are also able to assist students from 11 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday. This maker space is in a 2,000 square foot space. Johns Hopkins University features on American Society for Engineering Education’s list.
31. Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut
When Society for University and College Planning profiled Yale University’s Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (CEID), they were amazed with the space. The entire 8,700 square foot building is one big maker space with an open plan layout. One of the more unique features of this space is the biological wet lab. And the center has been successful in creating innovative education from pairing disparate courses together. For example, the music department has worked with design faculty to produce a class where they designed unique instruments. But since this profile, Yale University has opened a second maker space, the Center for Collaborative Arts & Media. This space is entirely dedicated to blending computer science/technology with the more traditional arts. Just one of the many things that students can do in this space is roam Google Earth in virtual reality!
30. University of Nevada, Reno
The Innevation Center at University of Nevada, Reno is named as such because it exists to take the “no” out of innovation. This building is a 25,000 square foot space in the downtown of Reno. It connects students and businesses together, with its maker facilities being a key catalyst for this. The Innevation Center also runs a range of programs that help the users of its maker space succeed in business. For instance, it runs InNEVator, which is a fully funded business accelerator for products focused on the Internet of Things. InNEVator has won numerous awards for its work in advancing technology. The college also has maker spaces in its College of Education and the DeLaMare Library. University of Nevada features on American Society for Engineering Education’s maker space study.
29. Oregon State University
One of the ways in which Oregon State University is encouraging collaboration is by running its DAMlab Maker space as a partnership between its colleges of business and engineering. Many of the students at the college are able to access this maker space 24/7. And the college even has a virtual maker space, which gives students access to numerous files that they can use to create their own projects and then send to 3D printers/laser cutters around the college’s campus. American Society for Engineering Education includes Oregon State University in its study of college maker spaces.
28. Boston University
The largest maker space on the Boston University campus is the Engineering Product Innovation Center (EPIC.) This space is 15,000 square feet and has millions of dollars of equipment within its walls. Any student can access this center. All that a student has to do is pass an online safety test. After that, the student can literally just bring in a sketch of an invention and talk with staff to get help in creating it. During the fall and spring semesters, EPIC is open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Thursday, 8 am to 6 pm Friday and 10 am to 4 pm on weekends. As well as EPIC, Boston University also has the Boston University Robotics Lab, the Binoy K. Singh Imagineering Laboratory and the Center for Manufacturing Innovation. American Society for Engineering Education names Boston University as having some of the USA’s best maker spaces.
27. Lehigh University
West Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
The central maker space of Lehigh University, The Wilbur Powerhouse, is a 17,000 square foot space that is divided into four areas. The Computing Lab has computers with all the latest up to date software; The additive Lab is primarily for 3D printing; The creativity Lab is for technical entrepreneurship; and The Design Lab gives students access to draft tools. Students can access this space from 7:30 am to 11 pm Monday to Thursday, 7:30 am to 5 pm on Friday and 10 am to 11 pm on Sunday. In addition to The Wilbur Powerhouse, the college also has Building C and the Zoellner Arts Center to serve as maker spaces. American Society for Engineering Education features Lehigh University in its study.
26. Drexel University
Over 1,000 Drexel University students use the college’s primary maker space, Innovation Studio, per year. Luckily, the area has an impressive 20,000 square foot of space for these students. However, if the Innovation Studio were full, then a student would have other spaces on the college’s campus to create within. For example, the ExCITe Center has the Shima Haute Technology Laboratory, which has state of the art industrial knitting machines so students can explore how to advance the field of functional fabrics. There is also the Entrepreneurial Game Studio and the Music and Entertainment Technology Laboratory. American Society for Engineering Education features Drexel University in its report.
25. Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
The maker space at Duke University started out life being called Co-Lab Studio. But over the last year, the college has added two more locations, making them the Co-Lab Studios. There are over 80 3D printers located in these studios, and the college provides filament for students to create with. However, the college also has a maker space with a focus on hands on art making, the Badger-Mars Visual Arts Wing. This area has an additional 15 3D printers. And next to this maker space is a multipurpose studio that can host installations, performances and rehearsals. And additionally, it also has The Foundry, which provides 7,600 square feet of space for students who have a focus on engineering, energy, entrepreneurship and sustainability. American Society for Engineering Education features Duke University in its report.
24. University of Colorado, Boulder
Some of the amazing student inventions that have come from University of Colorado, Boulder’s maker space, Idea Forge, include a car top tent platform and a backpack with a roll top. Students who want to learn how to use tools in the space have the opportunity to contribute to attempts to beautify the Idea Forge with new furnishings, artwork and other features. Overall, the space is inspired by steampunk, so it certainly looks unique. As well as Idea Forge, University of Colorado, Boulder also has the BTU Lab, which is geared towards experimenting with and hacking technology. Herman Miller and American Society for Engineering Education both feature University of Colorado, Boulder.
23. North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
The two maker spaces in North Carolina State University are located in the D.H. Hill Jr. Library and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. The former space is more focused on DIY creation and collaboration, while the latter space is more focused on 3D printing. Students at these maker spaces are truly engaging with some cutting edge technology. In fact, the space is even allowing those who use it to create wearable technology and upgrade devices so that they connect to The Internet of Things. Edsurge, American Society for Engineering Education and KQED praise North Carolina State University’s maker spaces.
22. University of Texas at Austin
Texas Inventionworks at the University of Texas at Austin allows students to access 23,000 square feet of maker space. Within this area is equipment that can give a student the opportunity to create “everything from solar cars and satellites to robots and biomedical sensors.” But perhaps what’s most impressive about this space is its director, Scott Evans. Evans has worked as a mechanical engineer, materials scientist, R&D director, entrepreneur and many more things. However, there is another amazing maker space on the college’s campus. In the Fine Arts Library is The Foundry, which is jointly run by University of Texas at Austin’s Libraries Department and the College of Fine Arts. This space has a video wall, VR headsets and video game development technology in addition to 3D printers and other more typical maker space equipment. University of Texas at Austin appears on American Society for Engineering Education’s study.
21. Wellesley College
Three different areas of Wellesley College serve as maker spaces. The Wellesley Engineering Lab serves as a more practical maker space, with machine tools being in use (although it also has a 3D printer and laser cutter). Pendleton West is a more artistic maker space, with video and audio production spaces and equipment as well as a wood shop. Lastly, the Knapp Media and Technology Center is in the college’s library and has other innovative technologies, like an Oculus Rift, as well as more traditional creative tools, like sewing machines. On top of this, Campus Technology reports that Wellesley College also has portable maker spaces, which the college calls “Maker Toy Boxes.”
20. Florida Polytechnic University
The innovation labs at Florida Polytechnic University give all students the opportunity “to test their big ideas on some of the most advanced equipment available. Overall, the college currently has seven different innovation lab maker spaces, all with their own specialisms. For instance, the Supercomputing Lab lets students run simulations and create data maps on a high speed IBM processor; the Cyber Gaming & Digital Media Lab has a multi-sensory communications center that is always being updated with the latest tech; and the Rapid Application Development (RAD) Makerspace Lab has 55 3D printers and digital object scanners. New Media Consortium is particularly pleased with how rapidly Florida Polytechnic University has been able to acquire and offer this technology, considering that it is a new institution, having some into existence in 2012.
19. Case Western Reserve University
The primary maker space of Case Western reserve University is the center of its “ecosystem of innovation.” The space is called Sears think[box]. Not only is it a space for students to try out new products and ideas, but it also offers invaluable extra services, such as legal and business expertise to turn ideas into startups. This business support is always expanding and evolving in interesting ways. For instance, it recently opened xLab, which pairs tech-savvy students with some of the largest businesses in the college’s home state of Ohio’s. Herman Miller and American Society for Engineering Education praise Case Western Reserve University.
18. Rice University
Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts could be considered one giant maker space, as its entire purpose is to serve “as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines.” However, the college itself only categorizes 5,000 of the building’s 50,000 square feet of space as strictly being its maker space. This designated area has a wood shop; metal shop; and rapid prototype and paint booth. And students who major in bioengineering; chemical and bimolecular engineering; civil and environmental engineering; materials science and nano-engineering; and mechanical engineering and statistics have access to the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a 20,000 square foot maker space . And to help students who would like to turn their great ideas into functional products, the college’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen has two grants that students can apply for. One awards $250 to $1,000, and the other awards $250 to $2,000. American Society for Engineering Education notes that Rice University has a huge range of equipment on offer to students
17. Northwestern University
The Garage, Northwestern University’s space for innovation, imagination and collaboration has led to the creation of over 300 startups from student ideas. It also receives over 1,000 visitors a month. The space is about more than just creating startups, however. Many of the people who engage with The Garage go on to work with some of the top companies in the world, such as Google, Spotify and Apple. The space is spread over 11,000 square feet, and while only one section of this is considered the college’s maker space, all of its facilities contribute to an innovative maker climate. There is also the Segal Design Institute at the McCormick School of Engineering, which has less of an emphasis on entrepreneurship. This space has the Prototyping and Fabrication Lab, the Corner Makery, 3D Printing & Rapid Protoyping Lab and the Mechatronics Design Lab. And lastly, the college also has MakerLab in its Mudd Library, which allows students to access 3D printing for no cost. American Society for Engineering Education features Northwestern University in its study.
16. Cornell University
Ithaca, New York
23 different areas nearby the Cornell University campus can serve as maker spaces for students. However, the two largest maker spaces are mannUfactory and Digital CoLab. MannUfactory is located in the college’s Mann library and has staff members at hand that specialize in things such as 3D printing, button making, laser cutting, sewing and needle arts. Digital CoLab is in the Olin library and organizes workshops, co-learning groups and provides programming help. Herman Miller cites Cornell University in its study of maker spaces.
15. Lafayette College
The Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is where Lafayette College’s current maker space is located. As is shown by the title, that means that Lafayette College’s maker space is focused around business. Therefore, the prototypes built in the maker space are intended to be developed into viable startups. However, in the fall of 2020, the college plans to open the $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center. This building will have a cutting edge flexible maker space that will be even better than the college’s current offering.
14. Brandeis University
The maker space at Brandeis University has over 30 different kinds of 3D printers and often has more than one machine of each model. This stunning diversity of equipment isn’t just restricted to the 3D printers. There are also many different kinds of VR headsets, 3D scanners and more. With so much on offer, it isn’t surprising that the students at the college are consistently producing a range of amazing projects. Current students and recent graduates have 3D printed bio molecular models, created a townhouse from Roman Pompeii in virtual reality and made many more amazing pieces of work.
13. Georgia Institute of Technology
There are currently seven different maker spaces across the Georgia Institute of Technology campus. The most recent of these maker spaces to open is the Van Leer Interdisciplinary Design Commons, which is a 15,000 square foot space with electronics and computer engineering at its heart. Some of the more unique items of equipment in this space include plasma cutters and function generators. Thanks to this equipment and its collaborative approach “Any student who comes to the center with an idea will be able to leave with a prototype they built.” Overall, this space cost $11 million to make. American Society for Engineering Education notes that Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the US colleges with the widest ranges of equipment in its maker spaces.
12. Sierra College
All maker spaces take collaboration to heart, but Sierra College has really taken it to new levels. The spirit of collaboration has led the college to partner with community maker spaces in its local area, boosting the opportunities that students have to access their resources. And thanks to this approach, the college was awarded a $350,000 grant in 2017 to open its own maker space. Even before this grant for a new maker space, the college already had 21,000 square feet of space and $375,000 of equipment available to students thanks to its partnerships.
11. Wheaton College
What makes the primary maker space of Wheaton College, Lab 213, really incredible is the Wheaton Maker’s Coalition. This is a student organization that integrates closely with the college faculty to use the maker space for incredible projects. This coalition has created 3D printed microscopes, wave pendulums and much more. On top of the typical laser cutters and 3D printers that can be found in most maker spaces, Lab 213 has drone cameras that students can make use of. The college also has nine other areas across campus that serve as maker spaces. Edtech is particularly impressed with the college’s Wheaton Autonomous Learning Lab, which was the college’s first maker space.
10. Harvard University
New Media Consortium goes out of its way to praise the efforts of Harvard University’s assistant professor Karen Brennan, noting that she has converted her classroom into a maker space for coders, creators and learners. American Society for Engineering Education also commends the efforts of the college’s computing related maker spaces. But in reality, Harvard University’s maker spaces go much further than computing. For instance, it has the Harvard Innovation Labs Maker Studio, which allows students who need access to prototyping and manufacturing tools to access it. In fact, since opening, the space became so successful that the college decided to double its size in 2015.
9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Shapiro Design Lab at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s library is always trying to evolve the way in which it provides opportunities to students. It does this by focusing on different themes. For the 2018 to 2019 year, its themes were open accessibility and community + citizen science. To work to these goals, the college partnered with a number of organizations, such as the Council for Disability Concerns and Services for Students with Disabilities. Additionally, the Shapiro Design Lab maker space is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all college students. Both American Society for Engineering Education and New Media Consortium highlight University of Ann Arbor’s maker space as a strong example for other colleges to follow.
8. Arizona State University
New Media Consortium is impressed with the fact that on top of creating a cutting edge maker space, Arizona State University has proactively sought to discover the best ways it can be used. This culminated in the Maker Summit, which aimed to discover ways in which the maker space’s activities could be integrated into degrees. American Society for Engineering Education notes that the college has also hired staff members specifically for its maker space. Arizona State University has three different spaces that can be used as maker spaces. There is the Innovation Hub, which is based in the college’s Polytechnic campus. This space has a ShopBot 3-D wood router, Epilog laser engraver, 3-D printers, a vinyl cutter and hand tools. In Arizona State University’s main library there is Mkrspace. This space has 3D printing, 3D scanning, vinyl cutting, book scanning, digital artistry, electronics and sewing equipment. The space also offers a film and audio studio. There is also the Chandler Innovation Center. This was run by a company called TechShop, until it went bankrupt. Luckily, Arizona State University stepped in early 2019 to reopen the space. This space has 3D printers, laser cutters, a vinyl cutter, sewing machines, a wood shop and a welding area.
7. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
The most impressive of all of University of Southern California’s maker spaces is the The Garage. This is a 9,000 square foot studio that has a “make-fail-learn-iterate approach to ideation,” according to the dean of the college’s Iovine and Young Academy, which runs the maker space. The space has already seen the launch of business endeavors. For example, Mira, which produces augmented reality headsets, started life as a project from three grads in The Garage. Another maker space at University of Southern California, Blackstone LaunchPad, has produced carbon fiber bowties, prosthetic hands, ice packs and many more inventions. Even though there are already many fine maker spaces for students of University of Southern California, it is still expanding. In spring 2020, it will open The Baum Family Maker Space. Edtech and New Media Consortium lavish praise on University of Southern California’s maker space approach.
6. Kent State University
In the fall of 2020, Kent State University’s maker spaces will be given a huge boost. In that semester the 68,000 square foot Design Innovation (DI) Hub will open, becoming a place that sparks open access collaborations across a range of disciplines. The only slight downside is that until this space opens, Kent State University’s current main maker space has been moved to a smaller location. But even in the 2019 to 2020 academic year, students won’t suffer, as there are currently over 25 different small maker spaces and resource labs across the college’s campuses that are available to all students. Venturewell is especially impressed with the way that Kent State University has mapped out all of the maker spaces to its students, so they are always aware of what they can access.
5. University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
More and more maker spaces keep on appearing across the University of California, San Diego campuses. The next one to open will be primarily for the college’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This space will be based in the college’s hydraulics laboratory and will have an emphasis on creating products and solutions for marine and earth sciences. But just because the maker spaces are being run by certain departments does not mean that some students are excluded. In fact, every maker space on campus encourages students of all disciplines to collaborate. This is perhaps best realized in the college’s EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio. This building is 3,000 square feet, opens Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm and is staffed by award winning engineers. Both Edsurge and American Society for Engineering Education praise University of California, San Diego’s approach to maker spaces.
4. Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
In 2017, Purdue University opened the $18.5 million Bechtel Innovation Design Center. This space allows all students of the college to create products and projects that have an impact on the real world. It also aims to build such fundamental skills as team building and leadership acumen. Overall, the building is 31,000 square feet large and is open for students 24/7. In addition to 3D printers and other equipment found in almost all maker spaces, the Bechtel Innovation Design Center also has a waterjet cutter and welding tools. As well as this main maker space, Purdue University has the P3 Maker space, the BoilerMAKER Lab and the Purdue Foundry, which all offer tools and collaborative environments for students. Purdue University features on American Society for Engineering Education’s study.
3. Stanford University
Stanford University already has many maker spaces across campus, which vary in size from small rooms to giant facilities. But the college also encourages students to suggest new places to start a maker space. Each of the current maker spaces has its own specialty, with some being stocked with machine metal tools and others being more suited to laser cutting and so much more. What’s even better is that most of the maker spaces at Stanford University have generous opening hours. Some, such as Lab64, are open 24 hours, seven days a week. EdSurge and American Society for Engineering Education both cite Stanford University’s maker spaces.
2. University of Washington
The main maker space at University of Washington, W Comotion, boasts that it has “more tools than we know what to do with.” The great thing about this is that students are able to borrow many of the tools to work with outside of the maker space, if they so wish. Not many college maker spaces have enough resources to do this. And the staff members at W Comotion are experts in guiding students on intellectual property, protection, licensing and many other aspects of running a startup. The maker space also provides funding and networking opportunities to ensure that projects are successful. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the maker space has launched hundreds of startups. Both Campus Technology and American Society for Engineering Education praise University of Washington’s maker spaces.
1. University of California, Berkeley
Across the University of California, Berkeley campus, there are currently five different maker spaces. The most impressive of these is the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. This space, which exists in a building called Jacobs Hall, opened in 2015. It has 24,000 square feet of “flexible, light-filled design studios and wide-ranging equipment labs.” All students, faculty and staff can pay just $75 per semester for a standard pass that allows them to enter this center and engage with courses, clubs and personal projects in the building. Some of the most cutting edge spaces in this institute are the Metal Shop, Visualization Lab, CAD/CAM Lab, Design Lounge, Electronics Lab, AV Production Lab, and the Advanced Prototyping Lab. Some of the maker spaces, such as the B.makerspace and Cory Hall, are free. University of California, Berkeley is featured in Society for University and College Planning, American Society for Engineering Education and Herman Miller lists.
By GVC Staff