New Student Innovation Center Joins Makerspaces at UW

Opening this fall, in conjunction with the new Engineering Education and Research Building at the University of Wyoming, the 3,500-square-foot Student Innovation Center is intended to provide students, faculty and staff with access to state-of-the-art equipment.

Simply defined, a makerspace is a collaborative workspace for making, learning and exploring.

The new center will house a range of tools, including industrial ceramic and metal 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, laser cutters, high-end computer numeric control machines, an electronics lab, virtual reality equipment, a wood shop and fabrication equipment. Next door to the makerspace, a reconfigurable student project room will feature ample space for UW campus community members to design and build large projects.

“This new space will have anything and everything within the emergent technology realm that we can provide to students,” says Makerspace Coordinator Tyler Kerr. “The idea is to provide an innovative space for students to go from a design to a fully realized product and a space for students to make whatever they’re dreaming of a reality. We want to help the do-it-yourself creative culture -- the maker movement driven by inventors, thinkers, designers and tinkerers -- flourish on campus.”

The Student Innovation Center is part of a host of offerings that will aid entrepreneurial thinking as part of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE). Wyoming’s wide-open frontiers are home to outside thinkers hungry for a challenge. They share a spirit of adventure, restless curiosity and wonder. The world needs more cowboys, and UW’s IIE calls on innovators from throughout the state as it works to instill entrepreneurial thinking to empower the leaders of tomorrow. Adding needed programs and curriculum that draw together all UW colleges, business services and entrepreneurship competitions, the IIE serves as the university’s front door for the state’s entrepreneurs.

“Our hope is to one day align with the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and ENDOW’s (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) vision of creating a workforce of future engineers, scientists, researchers and artists who have a great background in these types of technologies,” Kerr says. “The tech typically housed in makerspaces, like 3-D printing and 3-D scanning, isn’t going away and is increasingly being used in various industries. The more people we can empower and teach how to use this equipment, the better.”

On any given day, users of the makerspaces at UW include students of all ages, hobbyists, researchers and entrepreneurs. UW is home to several makerspaces, including the main Coe Student Innovation Center (CSIC) in Coe Library; the ASU-IT 3-D Print Center in the Information Technology Building; the 4-D Visual Art Fabrication Studio in the Visual Arts Building; and this new space in the Engineering Education and Research Building, located north of Lewis Street between 11th and 12th streets.

The 2,500-square-foot CSIC makerspace is open to the community and provides a central hub for those interested in innovative projects. It houses 10 of the ever-popular 3-D printers; a 3-D scanner; a fablab featuring sewing machines, a vinyl cutter and a large-format poster plotter; an electronics bench; a virtual reality station; laptop stations with computer-aided design and modeling software; and K–12 stations, including littleBits, Lego, Lego Mindstorms and Ozobots.

“One of the fun things about makerspaces is that they’re really community driven,” Kerr says. “When the community says they want certain equipment, there’s a chance we can look into bringing that technology into the space.”

The more than 3,000 people who have used the CSIC in its first year include community members 3-D printing antique car and bicycle parts; researchers 3-D scanning fossils; K-12 groups tinkering; entrepreneurs creating prototypes; an entrepreneurship student group holding its monthly meetings; and college classes 3-D printing musical instruments, petroleum engineering drill bits and molecules.

To learn more about UW’s makerspaces, visit www.uwyo.edu/sic/makerspaces.

SheridanWyoming.com

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