CREATIVE APPLICATION - The Red Deer College Makerspace was essential for allowing Tyler Drozdowski

RDC’s Makerspace a valuable tool for students

  • Dec. 16, 2015 3:25 p.m.

RDC faculty and students are eager to develop the school’s temporary Makerspace into a long-term facility that would encourage use from students of all sectors of study.

Makerspace concepts are a place for self-guided, informal learning that encourages creativity and innovation. It’s a designated area where students can access technologies such as 3D printers to design, manufacture and share real world applications of their learning.

As a second year Mechanical Engineering Technology student, Tyler Drozdowski has practical need for the space that allows him to demonstrate and better understand the concepts he learns in his program.

“The makerspace isn’t about the toys – as much as that is the fun part. It’s about connecting people,” Drozdowski said.

“I’m excited for more people to use the space. The idea is about connecting the disciplines in the college – right now we’re all pretty divided. I really want to see those connections and the sharing of those skills,” he continued.

He said the hands-on application of the theories he has learned in class has really helped him understand the material better, rather than simply reading about and trying to visualize applications.

In the first two weeks of the space being designated, over 300 hours had been logged by students seeking to use the space. The room was originally a print-design lab, and many of the leftover tools, chemicals and work spaces fit perfectly to the needs of a makerspace.

Warren Elgersma, a chemistry instructor, has been delighted with the use of the space. He has used it to create tangible models of molecules for students, and sees great opportunity in developing the space for other uses at RDC – especially as the school pursues Polytechnic University status.

“I think it would be huge to keep this space. You can do a lot more mutli-disciplinary examples with students in this space, and a lot more hands-on learning. There’s also a space for informal meetings. Overall it’s a very beneficial idea for us,” he said.

“It’s a grassroots movement here right now starting with students like Tyler. We’re hoping this space will be used enough that we can justify keeping it, as right now it’s temporary. We’ve been told that the space may not be available next year, but we’ like to demonstrate that there is a strong need for spaces like this in the College.

“This space is perfectly designed to be used in the RDC Design Competitions, which involves students of a variety of disciplines. Usually prototypes were built at home, or with a little bit of time in the Innovation Centre. This space is perfectly designed to be used in those competitions.”

Currently there is no funding within the school’s operating budget to develop the space further. Students are able to access the space under supervision of Elgersma, Drozdowski and RDC instructor Kevin Frank.

“We would really like to see this space opened up to the public eventually,” Elgersma said.

“If people or businesses were interested in design or 3D printing or mechanics, they could ideally come into the space and be able to access those things.”

kmendonsa@reddeerexpress.com

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