On the first floor of the library a new technological space is blossoming. _Space.URI is a reserved space for students and faculty to take their love of innovation and actually produce their ideas. This room is called the _Space.URI Makerspace.
The Makerspace is fully equipt with high technology machines designed to push the limits of students creativity. There are multiple 3-D printers, duplicators and workbenches for student to use for fun or school projects. The area is also stocked with a fully functional laser etcher and a spot to test out virtual reality.
Recently, _Space.URI held a special event to market the Makerspace to students outside of the engineering and computer science fields. The event is to allow students to come in and utilize the laser etcher by putting a picture or text onto decorative rocks.
“The point is to promote the space to students who would not not otherwise use it,” the Makerspace’s manager, Nicholas DaCosta, said. “This space is open to everyone, regardless of your major.”
While the ads promise a laser etching experience, it really is more of a waiting game. You enter in the area and walk around until you find the laser etcher in the corner, which is can very difficult and awkward depending on the time. Once you do manage to find the laser etcher, you can decide upon what picture or words you want to laser etch into a rock of your choice. While this can be a fun experience, it was rather underwhelming. Only very simple pictures can be done and very small amounts of text can be performed on the rock.
I was expecting a quick lesson in the software and the laser, but ended up leaving not knowing a single thing about the laser etcher or how to interact with the software. If the goal of the event was to bring non-engineering and technology students in, it didn’t work, at least to me. I still feel rather uncomfortable entering the Makerspace with very limited knowledge. I was expecting to leave with at least some basic knowledge on the Makerspace.
The Makerspace is currently open and free to use for students. It is funded by outside grants, this means that they are not funded by the University. They hope to continue to keep grant funding to continue the free program.
The Makerspace hopes to continue holding events so students can become comfortable using the machines and the software.