UCA Becomes a Player in the
National Maker Movement
A conversation with chief strategist Dr. Jeff Standridge
In September of 2017, the University of Central Arkansas opened a makerspace in Donaghey Hall.
The UCA Makerspace is powered by the Conductor (arconductor.org) — a public/private partnership between UCA and Startup Junkie driving innovation, entrepreneurship, talent development and economic empowerment across central Arkansas and beyond. The Conductor and the UCA Makerspace offer workshops and programs on how to make physical products, providing the opportunity to turn dreams into reality.
What is a makerspace?
The role of a makerspace is to establish a collaborative, creative space for people of all ages, from all disciplines. Makerspaces create a community and culture that encourages people to make, design and dream. Once you start making, you realize that nothing is impossible, and you have the tools at your fingertips to solve many daily problems.
During the fall semester, we had more than 550 visitors, with 310 of them coming back a second time. In that same time period, we had served 226 members of the local community, 239 students and 30 faculty, and we had also hosted field trips for six elementary schools.
What kind of things might I be able to learn in the UCA Makerspace?
You can learn how to laser-engrave a personalized cutting board, how to carve a sign for your business on the CNC machine or how to 3-D print a new case for your iPhone. You can also meet with our master maker, Jason Huselton ’97 (email@example.com), to consult with him about your ideas for an invention. He can help sketch out your idea and develop the prototype you need to get your provisional patent. Yes, we’ve done all this and more in the Makerspace!
Is there a cost for using the UCA Makerspace?
The UCA Makerspace is free and open to the public. Makers of all ages, from all disciplines, are welcome in the Makerspace. No previous experience in making is required.
How do I get engaged with the UCA Makerspace?
You can sign up for a Maker Training, during which you’ll learn how to use all of the equipment in the Makerspace, tour the space, meet our Maker Ambassadors and laser-engrave a personalized “Certified Maker” badge. You can come to one of our community events, like our Reimagined: Pumpkin Carving workshop, in which makers laser-engraved pumpkins and made Halloween-inspired crafts; or our Christmas workshop, in which participants made personalized, laser-engraved gift tags and printed wooden ornaments.
Visit arconductor.org/makerspace to learn more about the space, register for a Maker Training, view our upcoming events and workshops, schedule a time to tour the space or meet with our master maker. Additionally, you can reserve a time to use any of the equipment and create your next project.
If you’ve not visited the UCA Makerspace, you owe it to yourself to check it out. You might want to even join the more than 200 people who have been trained and now hold the designation of “Certified Makers.”
What kind of equipment can I expect to find in the UCA Makerspace?
The UCA Makerspace is equipped with 3-D printers, a laser cutter, CNC machine, soldering irons, wood-engraving tools and other equipment. In addition to tools, expert resources are also available to help you learn how to properly and safely use the tools.