We all have an infinite capacity for creativity, but we need the tools, resources, and training to explore our ideas. The new 15,000-square-foot Makerspace at EXP fulfills that essential need for the Northeastern community. While there are many other program-specific makerspaces located across the university, the new Makerspace at EXP welcomes all students regardless of their major and is also open to faculty and staff.
“It’s a background-agnostic, creative, making and ideation space that’s safe and inclusive,” explained Eric Stewart, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Space Planning. “Students, faculty, and staff can use the Makerspace for any purpose. They can make a Halloween costume, a prototype for a class project, or anything else they can imagine.”
Equipped with the tools of creativity
The open-concept areas of the Makerspace at EXP feature color-coordinated “tool boards” with small handheld devices, work tables for crafting smaller projects, and an electronics bench for tinkering with small consumables. To facilitate collaboration, there are also project rooms that can be booked in advance and comfortable lounge areas. The Northeastern students that staff the Makerspace at EXP (known as “Explorers”) are always available to answer questions, and all equipment is available on a “first-come, first-served basis.”
Open every day, the Makerspace at EXP has equipment for 2D and 3D printing, laser cutting, jewelry making, vinyl cutting, embroidery, sewing, woodworking, metalworking, and more. Beyond physical tools, the Makerspace team is working with the Khoury College of Computer Sciences to build out their software resources.
“It’s not only a place for students. Many faculty and staff are excited about developing their own creations in the Makerspace,” said Robyn Goodner, Executive Director, Makerspace. “Textiles are very popular, and we’ve had a lot of interest in woodworking and jewelry.”
All Makerspace users go through a short orientation, and before using individual pieces of equipment, novice users are trained and experienced users have their skills checked. “We built a credentialing system that helps us track what people are trained on,” explained Goodner. “From day one, the students have been eager to gain new credentials and foster connections with the people they meet in the Makerspace.”
While the Makerspace at EXP isn’t designated for specific academic programs, faculty can bring their students to the space and can schedule special orientations specifically for their classes.
Evolving to meet the community’s needs
“Our goal is to serve each and every making need that someone might come up with,” said Goodner. “We’re tracking what people are asking for and predicting what they might want to make in the future.” For example, there’s a Wet-Lab Makerspace in EXP coming soon for people interested in creations involving biology and chemistry. “They could make oobleck or genetically engineer bacteria with fluorescent proteins to make a piece of art,” said Stewart.
“We’re building a collaborative, global ecosystem with the other makerspaces on campus,” explained Stewart. “And we’re providing guidance and assistance to staff at other Northeastern locations who are interested in building or improving makerspaces.”
Everyone is welcome
Leading by example, Goodner and Stewart plan to use the Makerspace at EXP for their own projects, and they encourage faculty and staff to take full advantage of the space.
“As soon as you walk through the door, you’ll understand what the Makerspace at EXP is all about,” said Stewart. “It’s an incredible feeling to be in an atmosphere where people are creating together.”
Learn more about the Makerspace at EXP by visiting makerspaces.northeastern.edu.