The Columbia Makerspace, previously located on the 12th floor of the Mudd Building, received a makeover right at the beginning of this academic year. Upon stepping into its new location, Mudd Room 254 (in the Engineering Terrace), you are greeted by a mixture of grandiose machines and boxes full of yet-to-be-organized materials. All things considered, the lab and its advanced technology are impressive, especially to a fresh face.
When can I stop by?
The Makerspace is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Also, it is accessible to users during the extra “office hours” held by the superusers or manager.
Who can use the space?
Any student, faculty, staff member, or alum with valid Columbia identification can take advantage of the plethora of devices available, including 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, metal and woodworking appliances, and sewing and embroidery machines. But before you can access the space, you must complete the required training program.
What’s the training process like?
To use the Makerspace, first, students need to complete a safety training. Usually taught by a superuser, safety training consists of a 30-minute presentation with no registration required. Training sesssions are held every Monday and Friday at 1 p.m., and every Wednesday at 2 p.m. unless otherwise indicated by the calendar online. Once a user has completed the basic training, they are able to access the Columbia Makerspace.
Is that all the training that’s needed?
Some machines require more in-depth tutorials for them to be available for use. These include the 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing and embroidery machines, and a vinyl cutter. If you have any questions regarding an appliance, the best course of action is to ask one of the many superusers who work in the lab.
Who are these “superusers” you’re talking about?
Superusers are, as the name suggests, experienced users of the Makerspace. With this position, you have 24/7 access to the lab as well as access to private storage lockers. However, not just anyone can be given the title. Superusers must be well-trained in using the 3D printers, laser cutters, and three other machines of their choice in addition to all the safety guidelines of the space. With the job, they must be willing to train others, even having to outline a proposed seminar in their application. Currently, the Columbia Makerspace has 21 superusers manning the lab along with a manager and two advisors.
What can I do in the Makerspace?
Most engineering students will be familiar with the Makerspace through the required first-year course The Art of Engineering. Each semester, first-years complete the common project. They are tasked with creating an original game, which requires both creating a physical component and a program.
However, outside of The Art of Engineering, previous student projects have included a 3D-printed replica hoverboard from “Back to the Future Part II,” a laser-cut miniature sundial, and printed T-shirts. Many designs are created through a variety of machines. For example, one superuser made a copper rose using the drill press, aviation snips, soldering iron, mini-blow torch, and jewelry files.
These are just a few ideas for what you can do in the Makerspace. If you have any creative ideas, feel free to come down to the Engineering Terrace and bring them to life!
For more information on the revamped Makerspace, check out their website: https://make.columbia.edu/. Hope to see you there!