Meet the Makers: Outreach
Radford University’s Maker community allows for the Radford family to create, program and even build their own technology.
The Peery Hall MakerSpace houses power tools, hand tools, computers, 3-D printers and scanners, Arduino and Raspberry Pi microcontrollers, as well as various sensors and motors - all to provide students and faculty the space and the resources to create whatever they imagine.
Periodic training is offered by Radford faculty and students and is open to the entire campus community.
In order to encourage school children's interest in science and math, the Maker community offered a robotic event that even a novice could engage in: A Battlebot competition.
“It was envisioned from the beginning as an easy entryway for students that might be intimidated by the sound of ‘robotics’ as something too difficult for them to learn,” said Professor of Biology Jeremy Wojdak.
“We've run the competition twice – the first with a couple of build nights at Radford, recruiting kids and their parents from the local area,” Wojdak continued. “The second time we worked directly with Radford Public Schools and their technology teacher Jennifer Eller to recruit students and host the activities.”
The kids dove right in, Wojdak said, and embraced the mission of creating simple robots from recycled toys and electronic components that could compete in a Sumo-style competition.
The Makers also have a competition that ties in all aspects of the Makers: The Techno Prom.
“The Techno Prom is our wearable technology event,” Wojdak said. “Design students and faculty brought students from Radford Public Schools to our new MakerSpace to design dresses, belt buckles and hair accessories using electronics, 3-D printing, a bit of programming and more.”
In addition, there was an event where Radford University participants got to build their own smartphone microscope.
Maker students set up a booth outside of the planetarium in the Center for the Sciences where passersby could build their own smartphone microscope on the spot.
“Students wandering from session to session saw something interesting, stopped and built a microscope,” Wojdak said. “They then could take it home with them after looking at biological and geological specimens at the booth.”
The microscopes were built out of wood, Plexiglas, bolts and a lens taken from a small laser pointer.