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SAIT MakerSpace’s re-opening and anniversary: New location, more toys

For aspiring mad scientists or those that simply want to learn something new in a social and relaxed environment, SAIT MakerSpace, a knowledge transfer space on campus, is open once again.

Celebrating its anniversary on Jan. 17, 2019 the SAITSA club offers a space on campus for students to share information and expertise, whether technological or otherwise, to create, tinker, innovate, and learn.

SAIT MakerSpace spent its first year in a basement room of the Reg Erhardt library, but is now hosted on the fourth floor of the Thomas Riley building in TT446.

The initiative is dependent on student involvement, explained SAIT MakerSpace president and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) student Ethan McNeill.

“We want it to be student-led and we want it to be student-driven,” he said.

“We see it as cyclical – you learn something new, you make something new, and you share it with someone else.”

SAIT MakerSpace

President Ethan McNeill, left, and vice-president Chit Tun, right, of SAIT MakerSpace celebrating the club’s anniversary in its new location in the Thomas Riley Building, on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019.
Photo by Sean Feagan

Maker spaces have been founded throughout the world, including Calgary-based operations ProtoSpace and Fuse 33. 

SAIT’s iteration of the concept was developed by SAIT Electrical Instructor Robin Greig, who helped establish it as Cadmus Teaching Chair, a position which allows a faculty member to develop a major project or initiative.

Greig was motivated to enhance and diversify the learning experience at SAIT, said McNeill.

“He saw the fact that while we were making a lot of highly technically skilled people on campus, there wasn’t really a good way on campus to access equipment, and access other people outside of your program.”

McNeill founded SAIT MakerSpace as a SAITSA club with fellow MET student, Chit Tun, who now serves as vice president. 

While the club offers the opportunity to work with interesting technologies like 3D printers, advanced routers, and electrical circuitry, student-led learning within the MakerSpace is not bound to the technological, explained Tun.

“We don’t want to focus mainly on engineering or electronics – if we saw a lot of interest in sewing or knitting, we could host [those skills],” he said.

“Everyone has their own skill set and their own knowledge base, and there’s people willing to share that knowledge – which is wonderful.”

Makerspace offers an opportunity to gain and share knowledge, meet people, and network, said New Media Production and Design student Alexander Perez, who was visiting the space for the first time.

“We can learn from each other’s personal experiences and learning environments,” he said.

Perez has been “fascinated by 3-D printing for a couple years,” and was looking forward to learning about the software, how the machines work, and the materials, he said. Becoming familiar with the technology is also an opportunity to think about how to integrate it into his own field of media and design, he added.

SAIT Makerspace

SAIT MakerSpace president Ethan McNeill shows 3D printed items at the club’s new location in Thomas Riley.
Photo by Sean Feagan

SAIT MakerSpace offers an opportunity to work with new systems, which can have major impacts to one’s outlook or understanding of a technology, explained student Brice Shirley.

“You’re using different machines, different equipment – event the way you think about things changes – based on the technology that we have in here,” he said.

It’s all self-based learning – if you have an idea, if you have something you want to learn, you take it and learn it, which is what happens in industry.”

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