Makerspace Highlights Tech With Open House


Valerie Hackworth, Assistant Manager of Library Technology, welcomes students to Makerspace open house. (Photo by Brian Branch)

Story by Brian Branch | Contributing Writer

Have you ever wanted to learn how to 3D print or explore virtual reality with free, on-campus equipment, the Makerspace offers just that. The Makerspace, which opened in the James E. Walker Library in 2016, features various kinds of technology. Anyone can sign up for training and acquire the skills needed to operate just about anything in the lab.

Sean Creighton plots a design on the vinyl cutter. (Photo by Brian Branch)

Assistant manager of the library technology department Valerie Hackworth discussed the Makerspace’s technological capabilities at this year’s open house Wednesday.

The open house featured demonstrations of most of the technology in the lab, giving visitors a chance to preview and try out most of what Makerspace has to offer. 

“The Makerspace is about providing a space and the tools, and the skills, to users so that they can explore, create, prototype and design,” Hackworth said. “It’s a place of welcome, openness and inclusion. Everybody’s welcome in this community. Come on in and give it a shot.”

All students, staff and faculty can use the Makerspace, she said.

Jose Vega instructs a student on how to operate the flight simulator’s controls. (Photo by Brian Branch)

“We are not discipline-specific, and that’s the beauty of the library as a whole,” Hackworth said. “It is here for everybody on campus, and it’s your resource. Come in anytime.”

The Makerspace features technology ranging from 3D printers, a virtual reality simulator, Sphero robots, vinyl cutting, a sublimation printer, a flight simulator, a laser engraver and more.

The space houses two 3D printers, which can print objects from scratch. One of them is a “level two” printer, which can stop while printing and start printing again in different colors.

A student explores the world of virtual reality. (Photo by Brian Branch)

Another feature of the lab is a fused filament dual 3D printer that is capable of printing two colors at the same time.

The Makerspace also has a vinyl decal cutter that can design decals. In the same area, the lab contains a sublimation printer that can do complex color design printing by using heat transfer to apply an image to a material.

Another exciting piece of technology is the Carvey Desktop CNC carving machine, which is capable of engraving on several different materials. One of the most interesting objects in the lab is the Phenom resin printer which uses resin instead of filament to 3D-print objects and uses an LCD picture that flashes to harden the resin. The lab also contains an Epilog Helix laser, which is an engraver and a cutter.

Other features of the Makerspace are unique dedicated rooms, like a green screen room, a podcast room for recording podcasts and an easy recording room, all of which can be reserved for use.

Hackworth aims to keep students returning to the Makerspace.

“We find out what they like, and they’re able to express what they want to do, and we work to help them gain the skills and the tools they need in order to do what they want to do,” she said.

To contact News Editor Matthew Giffin and Assistant News Editor Kailee Shores, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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