What Can You Make? WakerSpace Launches

WakerSpace, Wake Forest’s official “makerspace,” officially launched on Nov. 19, 2018. Makerspaces are collaborative work environments that enable people of all skill levels to work on creative projects such as a 3D-printed iPhone case.

A rewarding undertaking for those involved, members of the organizing committee welcomed more than 100 WakerMakers, the official name for WakerSpace patrons, over the first two days. Visitors shared their ideas for the space and were given tours by WakerSpace staff, mostly student volunteers who helped organize the space.

When asked about his thoughts on the launch, Paul Whitener, Assistant Director of the WakerSpace, expressed sincere gratitude to all involved.

According to Whitener, “We have been working with a very dedicated group of students from across the University for almost four years to bring the WakerSpace to life. Over that time, as students graduated, and new students came aboard, the students did multiple presentations to WFU administration, laying the groundwork that lead to the WakerSpace opening.”

Whitener and computer science professor David John, WakerSpace’s faculty director, have been working on the space for almost four years now. They led a joint-steering committee/student organization including administrative leaders such as Dean of the College Michell Gillespie and Provost Rogan Kersh along with students majoring in everything from economics to computer science.

Spanning approximately 3,000 square feet, the WakerSpace is located in the old-Student Health trailers at the top of Lot Q near Magnolia Residence Hall. It has dedicated rooms for soldering and circuitry, sewing and graphic design, laser-cutting and woodworking, podcasting, 3D-printing and more.

For those wanting to learn a new skill, or sharpen old ones, there will be many opportunities from one-on-one training sessions with staff members to workshops like the upcoming knitting seminar “Commit to Knit.” Designed to appeal to all STEM and liberal arts disciplines, some of these workshops will be provided based on desire while others will complement academic programs since the WakerSpace also acts as a collaborative environment for classes.

“The department of Spanish has already had students complete projects…other departments have contacted us as well, including computer science, entrepreneurship, chemistry and biology,” John said.

Moving forward, entrepreneurship professor Christopher Mumford has reserved the space for a weekly class where students will not only learn to conceptualize and refine ideas, but how to implement them and make them a reality.

“It will be a space that encourages growth through trial and error and experimentation … a place where one can collaborate, mentor and grow through hands-on experimental learning,” Whitener said in a previous interview.

Senior Laura Critz, the social media manager for WakerSpace, said their goal for next semester is to “expand on the campus and make sure everyone knows we exist, where we are, and what we have to offer, so when you need to make something for class, or just for fun, you have the tools and resources to do so.”

Whitener and John, when asked what they would like to convey, shared a similar sentiment to Critz. They want everyone to know that University faculty, staff, and students are welcome in the space because, in the end, “Everybody at heart is a maker,” John said.

Moving forward, WakerSpace will be predominantly student-run and student-oriented. WakerMakers will be supervised by student volunteers who are trained to operate all the equipment and are available to assist with projects.

With a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, their followers will be the first to know about workshops, hours of operation and more. So stop by, take a tour, and have an answer ready to #WhatCanYouMake?