College of Alameda Nets New Makerspace Grant

 

The College of Alameda has announced that the California Community Colleges’ chancellor’s office has awarded the school $250,000 to create a makerspace community. Makerspace.com describes the concept as community centers with tools. These centers enable participants to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone, Makerspace.com says. People with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can work on projects at makerspaces while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge.

On her website Renovatedlearning.com, Diana Rendina describes a makerspace as “a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials.” 

“Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education,” Makerspace.com states. 

These spaces are facilitating what some consider the next industrial revolution. The grant will allow students at the College of Alameda to join this revolution, using new digital design technologies and prototyping techniques in a specially designed facility right on campus. Rather than makerspaces some call these facilities “fabrication laboratories,” and the students at the College of Alameda have dubbed theirs “FabLab.” 

The college has contracted with Idea Builder to develop its FabLab, which will open its doors next spring. A three-dimensional model of the new facility can be viewed online at http://alameda.peralta.edu/fablab. 

“The College of Alameda’s FabLab will provide students access to state-of-the-art digital fabrication equipment, which is standard in many industries today,” said Danny Beesley, Idea Builder founder and principal. For example, students will learn how to use digital fabrication tools, including state-of-the-art 3D printers and a computer numerical control router, the digital-age relative of a favorite cutting tool. 

According to Beesley, the college’s FabLab will enhance existing curriculum and programs and serve as the homebase for the creation of new courses. 

“Students will get direct hands-on experience in the lab, using the equipment to not only to complete classroom assignments, but to create products and solutions for local industry and entrepreneurship as well,” Beesley said. FabLab students will learn by doing assignments that inspire them the most. 

Projects that students will be able to pursue in the FabLab include: tangibles for assisting in teaching complex math, engineering and physics principals; custom signage; promotional goods; consumer electronics; furniture; displays; biotech equipment; custom clothing and fashion products; household goods; and automotive accessories and aftermarket parts.

Once the FabLab is operating, some 50 students could benefit from paid internships. 

A number of local organizations provided letters of support for College of Alameda’s makerspace grant, including the Alameda Chamber of Commerce, the City of Alameda, Alameda Boys and Girls Club, Bay Ship & Yacht, the West Alameda Business Association, McGuire Hester, Golden Gate Audubon Society and Sila Nanotechnologies.

For its makerspace proposal the College of Alameda identified ecosystem partners, assessed students’ interests and involved the school’s faculty. The grant will fund curriculum development and internships to develop students’ innovation and entrepreneurial skills. 

Community colleges across California are building makerspaces so that students, faculty, staff and others with shared interests may collaborate with others throughout the state. They will learn to use tools, complete class projects and develop their knowledge through exploration and hands-on experiences, according to Carol Pepper-Kittredge, California Community Colleges’ maker statewide project manager.

“Makerspace community members collaborate and teach other, enabling students, faculty and business owners to interact in ways not possible in the classroom, enriching students’ education,” said Pepper-Kittredge. 

“As a result of this grant, our college will develop an innovative education model that will better prepare students for careers in our regional economy and beyond,” said Timothy Karas, Ph.D., College of Alameda president.