Meet the Makers: Radford University’s MakerSpaces

The Department of Design Make Lab in McGuffey Hall.

A MakerSpace is a spot for students and faculty to create, build or design. Radford University has a variety of spaces that allow for various disciplines to devise solutions to problems or invent fun and useful things.

Radford University was named a Make School by the Make School Alliance in January, joining 47 other colleges and universities, such as Carnegie Melon, Cornell, Yale and Penn State to earn the designation.

Radford’s MakerSpace areas cover: 3D printing and design, programming and microcontrollers, electronics, power and hand tools, e-textiles and fabrics and multimedia. The spaces are distributed amongst Peery Hall, the Department of Design Make Lab and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) New Media Center.

These spaces allow for faculty and staff to work together – outside and inside of the classroom – to enhance learning through practical hands-on experience. A couple years ago, Radford designed a cross-discipline course, titled “Think through Make: An Interdisciplinary Approach.” In this course students are designing and building a small, sustainable house.

Radford also has a freshman living-learning community built around the existing Maker community and lifestyle. The living-learning community in Peery Hall is open to all incoming freshman at Radford, regardless of their major.

“They will have greater access to the makerspace than the general student population,” Professor Rhett Herman said. “They will be given four workshops per semester that will give them design, thinking, process and technical skills that most people don’t have all at once.”

The living-learning community is looking for creative students, ones who identify a problem and be able to create a solution, Herman said.

“The presence of two interdisciplinary, campus-wide Makerspaces – the New Media Center and the Peery Makerspace – and the interdisciplinary living-learning community reinforce the broad scope of our Maker movement,” Assistant Provost Jeanne Mekolichick said.

Through local outreach, Radford University faculty and students work with local schools, most notably Radford City Public Schools.

“Our inclusion in the Make School Alliance has been instrumental in expanding our network of Makers and increasing opportunities for the faculty and students both at Radford University, as well as the regional K-12 schools,” Mekolichick said.

Society needs graduates who are prepared to work in diverse teams, understand how to approach complex problems, communicate outside of their discipline area and understand the value of failure, Mekolichick said.

Students who adopt the Maker mindset will see themselves as creators, problem solvers and team members. Radford students will also have tangible products to present potential employers.

“This is the power and impact that the Maker movement can have on our students,” Mekolichick said.

Each MakerSpace area at Radford University will be featured in upcoming articles.

Aug 18, 2016
Max Esterhuizen
(540) 831-7749