Creative Direction: Making a Makerspace
Making a Makerspace
EMPLOYER: Sacramento City College (Sac City)
PROBLEM DEFINITION: How might we cultivate an accessible, inclusive, interdisciplinary, creative space where students, faculty, community partners, and administration can work together to develop skills, curriculum, and processes that drive 21st century skillsets?
SOLUTION: Sac City Makerspace is a space where students, faculty, and community business partners work together to achieve the above. Strongly connected to a vast network of California Community College Makerspaces, Sac City pioneers an important shift in education at the community college level.
BEFORE THE BEGINNING: MAKER EVENT
In 2016, the $17 million initiative from California Community College (CCC) Maker was funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Workforce and Economic Division. Under the initiative, twenty-four California Community Colleges were eligible to apply for up to $700,000 for two years.
Pre-seed money, each college was granted $25,000 to design a maker-related experience for the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire.
THE BEGINNING: INTO THE UNKNOWN
Sac City was granted the highest award of $700,000. Under the leadership and mentorship of our Project Director, I was brought on as the Creative Director of the new makerspace.
We emptied two former classrooms in the corner of campus and brought in over $100,000 worth of new machines, tools, and equipment. Our team worked together to design the physical spaces: The Shop & Flex Space.
Through intentional and thoughtful design, the space attracted people from all walks of life—giving it a lively, energetic feeling, full of possibilities and new ideas.
THE MIDDLE: ONE STEP AT A TIME
Our staff was made up entirely of students. Initially we specialized and eventually, student staff learned 80-90% of the machines and equipment in the space.
We opened the doors to the entire campus community May 4th, 2018.
We hosted workshops and trainings five days a week. Deans and faculty members grew in excitement and students stumbled in wondering what this place was all about.
As Creative Director, creating a brand identity was a priority; with a sense of urgency and deep understanding of visual communication and storytelling, we needed to tell our students and campus community who we were and what we did.
Coined by our fearless leader, positive mental attitude or PMA was the most important value to be embedded within the maker culture at SCC.
Focused on human-centered design, we empathized with our student, faculty, and administrator personas, designing a website that met the needs of our users.
Learning by doing, we used our new machines to create name tags, signage, calendars, presentations, clip boards, stickers, t-shirts, and engraved mugs and water bottles.
I managed most projects that came through our doors; creating specs, assembling teams, and writing proposals—working with interdisciplinary teams to design products from conception to delivery.
In addition to an operations guide and student orientation booklet, our team created a “Maker Badge” designed to inform staff if students were trained in different machinery and at what level.
With experience training students on the Roland Printer/Cutter, I created a training manual for reference and to guide future trainers.
SCC collaborated with CCC Maker to design and develop a new internship model called MakerMatic.
In addition to training documents and marketing material, we created the pilot MakerMatic manual.
MakerMatic was designed to bring interdisciplinary students together and blend skillsets. Mentored by faculty coaches and student assistant coaches, teams worked to solve a single real world business challenge delivered by a local community business partner.
SCC hosted the pilot MakerMatic that would be iterated and deployed throughout the CCC Maker colleges in the following semester.
I was commissioned to create videos about the design, development, and implementation of MakerMatic.
CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITATIONS
There were many, as in all startups. The most over reaching was creating a business-like structure within an academic environment.
Managing and training student staff, scheduling, purchasing, and troubleshooting were daily hurdles.
Design thinking and ambiguous thought is nice in theory, much more difficult in practice—but we practiced every day.
Physical space and workflow limitations. Soon we had more equipment and students using the space than capacity could hold.
Idea-influx. This seems like a good thing. It was a good thing, but at times it was overwhelming and we found ourselves needing to have some sort of system for dumping, sorting, and implementing ideas.
Keeping the space organized and tidy.
THE SUMMIT: NETWORK, GROW, SUSTAIN
Sacramento City College, along with twenty-three other California Community Colleges have created spaces that are uniquely different but hold the same values: community, collaboration, and innovation.
A grassroots cause with buy-in at the top, each space has a unique opportunity to change education in the 21st Century
The make/SHIFT conference was an opportunity for the twenty-four CCC Maker colleges to strengthen their maker networks, showcase student work, and share what we’ve learned throughout this journey. The Mini Docuseries commissioned by CCC Maker was featured on opening night of the make/SHIFT conference. Additionally, I spoke about the power of documentation on the panel, “Telling Your Story.”