Creative Direction: Making a Makerspace
Making a Makerspace
EMPLOYER: Sacramento City College
PROBLEM DEFINITION: How might we cultivate an inclusive, interdisciplinary space where campus communities can work together to develop skills, curriculum, and programs that drive 21st century skill sets?
SOLUTION: Sac City Makerspace is a space where students, faculty, administrators, 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.
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 $2,500 to design a maker-related experience for the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire. Our students designed, coded, and fabricated a giant inflatable brain. Each lobe would inflate as users interacted with the activity that correlated with its lobe.
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. The video shows the transformation of the 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.
I created this video for the 2018 International Symposium of Academic Makerspaces (ISAM) at Stanford University. It documents Sac City Makerspace’s best practices.
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.
Posters were designed by one of our student staff for opening day May 4th, 2018.
Deans, faculty members, and students grew in excitement, as we started to host more workshops and trainings.
As Creative Director, creating a brand identity was a priority; it was essential that we communicated who we were and what we did to our campus community and community partners.
Coined by our fearless leader, positive mental attitude or PMA was the most important value to be embedded within the maker culture at Sac City.
Focused on human centered design, we empathized with multiple personas including student, faculty, administrator, and community partner—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. The video is a time-lapse of our first laser cut using the rotary tool.
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 designing and writing the content to the 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: Beginner (B), Intermediate (I), or Advanced (A).
With experience training students on the Roland Printer/Cutter, I created a training manual for reference and to guide future trainers.
MakerMatic: Innovative Internship Model
Sac City collaborated with CCC Maker and The Shop at VSP Global to design and develop a new internship model called MakerMatic.
Designed to blend skillsets and bring interdisciplinary students together, teams worked to solve a single real world business challenge delivered by VSP Global.
We created training documents, marketing materials, and the pilot MakerMatic manual.
Sac City 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 & 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 due to the bureaucratic limitations of an institutional organization. This is where collaborative, creative problem solving came into practice.
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, 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: Grow, Network, 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 video series I produced commissioned by CCC Maker was featured on opening night of the conference. Additionally, I spoke about the power of documentation on the panel, “Telling Your Story.”
From the ground up
In three years the CCC Maker network has grown exponentially and I have learned tremendously—honing my identity as a storyteller, design thinker, and problem solver.
I learned how to troubleshoot and work with a diverse range or personalities and skillsets to craft stories, build programs, and write content. Practicing patience on a daily basis and observing my own limitations, I gained confidence in decision making and taking the lead.
Working with students, I grew in coaching and mentoring—watching them learn and become passionate about making.
With strong, inclusive, and many-times-brilliant faculty members to help guide our path, I gained respect for those who have blazed their own trails and observed a simple creative confidence I hope to emulate in my own work.
21st century jobs require collaboration, innovation, and creativity to solve the worlds biggest challenges, and I am proud to have contributed to creating environments which empower students, help them find their passions, and develop in-demand skill sets.