More than 200 students, staff, faculty and community members turned out for the first meeting of the UNL Maker Club, a new student organization on campus that promotes student-initiated projects that fuse engineering, art, design and technology.
Shane Farritor, the club’s faculty adviser and professor of mechanical and materials engineering, presented the group's vision for starting a Maker Space at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The space would provide an environment for students, faculty, staff and the public to work with each other building projects using specialized equipment, including 3-D printers, laser cutters, woodworking, sewing, electronics, and metalwork.
“If students want to be successful after college, they have to be special. They have to be creative. They have to be innovative. And they have to be interdisciplinary,” Farritor said during the Feb. 5 presentation in Jorgensen Hall.
Establishing a Maker Space on campus would help students extend their own skills, while helping others to do the same, Farritor said.
Following the presentation, Farritor took questions from the audience, which included a diverse group of students from art, engineering, science, business, and agricultural backgrounds. Faculty, staff and members of the public also attended.
Tom Power, a junior dietetics major, is excited to join the club.
“It sounds like the club will really help define a culture on campus that’s necessary to really make use of the cutting-edge technology at a Maker Space,” Power said. “I love the idea of taking a welding class, for example, and then teaming up with a sculpture artist and an electrical engineer on a an interactive art project.”
Madeline Cass, an applied sciences junior and co-founder of the club, spoke to several students after the question and answer session about ideas they have for the club.
“There’s just a ton of excitement from everyone about the prospect of having a communal space where students can get together, roll up their sleeves, and make cool stuff," Cass said. "The big task will be to distill these ideas down and build a manageable, coherent plan for the club to follow. That’s what comes next.”
While Farritor noted the proposed Maker Space wouldn’t open until the fall semester at the earliest, Tom Frederick, a graduate mechanical engineering student and co-founder of the club, plans for the student group to get to work early.
“We want to create a student-run learning series where students, staff and community members offer classes in a wide array of skills, like soldering, Arduino development, 3-D printing, laser cutting, 3-D modeling, photography and welding,” Frederick said.
He also mentioned other ideas, like club-financed micro-grants for student projects, and outreach partnerships with other community organizations.
Kearney Lackas, a graduate mechanical engineering student and club co-founder, said the club had originally planned to meet in a 50-seat classroom in Scott Engineering Center. However, the meeting was moved almost immediately to a much larger Jorgensen Hall lecture room to accommodate the attendance.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Farritor said.
The next club meeting is scheduled for Feb. 19. The time and location has not been determined, but more information will be available on the club’s website, http://make.unl.edu.