Holiday Maker Bash Introduces Students to New Technology in the Nest

It might be cold and chilly outside, but the spirit of creativity brought warmth to the Makerspace this Wednesday afternoon during the Holiday Maker Bash, a festive event featuring some of the most advanced machines on campus. The Bash encouraged students to interact with the technology the Nest has to offer in interesting ways that allowed students to de-stress before break.

Some students considered the highlight of the event to be the use of Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that the Makerspace recently purchased. Because of their positive experience at the Bash, some students see themselves taking their interests to the next level.

Anushree Gupta ’18 said, “The Oculus was great. It was very interesting that you could be transported into virtual reality, and it seemed really real. I am gonna consider going to the club that let us use it on a more regular basis.”

Although it has been been a staple of the Makerspace since last year, many students have yet to be formerly familiarized with the laser cutter. The Holiday Maker Bash offered an opportunity for them to learn about this machine and produce a craft to bring home to family.

Neil Thorley ’19 said, “I haven’t had as much of a chance to use that [the laser cutter] as I would like, and it was nice to finally get to try it out and learn how it works and makes something awesome. I made an ornament for my Christmas break [today].”

Tessa Conrardy ’20 also enjoyed using the laser cutter. She said, “It’s kind of interesting because you can put things in 2-D format and have to think about it in a 3-D sense, and how to transition from 2D to 3D and utilizing the laser cutter to do that. It’s kind of like a cool technology in a cool mindset.”

Students of different levels of involvement in the Makerspace showed up at the event. Some had had extended experience working there.

“I come in here almost everyday for something or another. My goal is to learn how to use all the machines in here by the end of the year. I’ve learned how to sew, how to use the laser cutter, how to use the 3-D printer. I haven’t done any of that before I came here. It’s really fun,” said Conrardy.

Others, like Riley Edsall ’20, might have only used the space for studying prior to the event. He said, “Occasionally I will come in here because it’s a nice and quiet place to study, but usually I don’t have much interaction here.”

Michael Barker, Director of Academy Research, Information, and Library Services, was delighted to see new faces to the Nest at the Bash. Barker recognizes a group of “return customers” who use the Makerspace on a regular basis, but says he is eager to grow the pool of students who utilize the tools frequently.

“We like what we’re seeing. But we always want to grow that pool, that community of people, as much as possible. Events like this [Holiday Maker Bash] kind of help because it’s just come on down, try some of the equipment, have some fun, meet some people, all of that,” said Barker.

Claudia Wessner, Makerspace Coordinator and Lead Experience Designer, agrees with the importance of making the space more accessible to the community.

“We are constantly trying to reach out to different groups of students, to make it a place where everyone can come. This place is for all students. We want you to come in here. If you don’t know what this space is all about, you can talk to me and find out how to use it, how to use the tools. Even if you think you can’t do any of this, I am pretty sure that we can find something that you can do absolutely, and you can learn the stuff,” said Wessner.

Other than the Holiday Maker Bash, the Makerspace has planned many events to encourage students to take full advantage of the space.

“We run lots of one on one workshops, some skill workshops. We have NestEd events for people to come and just listen to somebody that’s doing something in the makerspace kind of zone. We try to run events that are open to anybody,” said Barker.

“Just recently the sewing and knitting club are gonna come, and they have started to do their making in the space. I think we should just do more of it. More art, more crafts, just have fun doing this, and eventually we will learn something doing it, and it will be a creative adventure,” he continued.