Sonoma State University to receive Makerspace for integrated learning

With the on-demand emergence of 3D printing, turning digital models into solid objects has become a futuristic reality. 

Now, with an over half a million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, Sonoma State University will have a designated Makerspace for students, faculty and staff to use to bring their creativity to life.

Makerspace is a workspace for people to gather to create, invent and learn.

Housed on the second floor of the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center, the Makerspace will be filled with 3D printers, a computer controlled mill, laser cutters and microcontrollers. 

Physics professor Jeremy Qualls, who is working with Physics and Astronomy Chair Lynn Cominsky and others on the project, hopes to create a community Makerspace to be utilized by everyone.

“With a community Makerspace, we wanted to tap into not only the social part, but really the cool part of the process as well,” said Qualls, “From a desktop setup someone can make LED lights for their skateboard and they can do it themselves.”

Along with free workshops set to begin in fall 2017, Science 220, Dream, Make, and Innovate, will be offered as a GE class utilizing the makerspace. 

Qualls hopes this will lead to Sonoma State becoming known as a maker campus.

“When people think SSU, they know they will be able to learn a bunch of skills and, no matter their major, those skills will help them stand out,” said Qualls. “It can really be a launchboard for careers.”

The grant comes from a proposal to the National Science Foundation from the university that will eventually evaluate the impact a Makerspace has on students through established learning outcomes as well as surveys and interviews with students. 

In two years, the university can apply for a regrant depending on how successful the program is.

Sonoma State is one of five California State University campuses with a Makerspace, but Qualls says Sonoma State is the only one with this type of program.

“Other universities have makerspaces but they do not have this type of inclusive, everyone-involved program,” said Qualls, “It should be more than just a space, with not only a science aspect, but an art one as well.”

The university’s Makerspace will be collaborating with a Makerspace being built on Todd Road in Santa Rosa, through 180 studios, which will allow students to use both spaces for more intricate projects. 

Qualls says the program is looking for people who are interested to take the pilot class in the fall and if the student population wants this program on campus their voice should be heard. Information about the class has already spread among students.

“I have seen about this technology before online and in magazines but I had no idea it could ever could come to campus, “ said Antonio Pascoe, a sophomore history major. “I don’t think of myself as very creative, but I could see this class being pretty fun.”