By Maria Garcia
There’s a strong smell; it could be the burnt metal or the laser cutter at work.
The loud noise of the machines at work fills the room but fades into the background, eventually. There are tiny little scraps of wood all jumping and flying off the board. Working with complex machinery, participants here are careful when using the hand saw, as they’d like to keep both hands for the next project.
Maybe they’ll make an engraved wooden pendant to hang on a necklace, or a little figurine designed on a 3D printer, or maybe even a space device for NASA!
Maker Space at COC is best described as a place that allows students and faculty to design and create original projects and it can be found on both the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses. The space opens twice a week, every week, during the school semester.
It includes equipment like wood-cutting machinery and 3D printers, plus spaces to work on projects and faculty members to oversee safety. COC’s Foundation provided an initial $15,000 grant in 2016 when the space first opened and additional grants over the years to cover some of the Maker Space costs. This also made it possible for the space to be free to COC students and faculty.
A lot of the students using the space are involved in manufacturing and engineering classes. They are also very interested in careers that involve innovation and technology.
Some of the students have created parts for more mechanical projects and others have made intricate wired parts for robotic projects, all using the equipment at Maker Space. Most of the students using the space have experience creating and building things.
However, Maker Space invites people with none or little experience to participate as well.
“A lot of people struggle with creativity and Maker Space encourages and gives people a blank canvas to create on,” said Joel Godinez, Maker Space club secretary.
Furthermore, other people enjoy transforming black and white photographs into wooden-carved pendants for necklaces. They use the laser printer machine at Maker Space to transfer a photograph onto a thin sheet of wood, which is then cut into the shape of a necklace pendant using the hand saw. The Maker Space allows anyone with a desire to create, to come into the space and build something.
While many people commonly associate technology and innovation with males, people at Maker Space would say so differently. They go out of their way to encourage everyone to use the space. They especially stress the importance of women’s participation.
“Maker Space promotes women,” said Maker Space coordinator and Professor Teresa Ciardi, during her presentation at the 2018 Maker Space Festival. “We need incredible people in every field of technology, math and science.”
Other women in Santa Clarita that were at the festival and heard Professor Ciardi’s presentation, supported Maker Space’s efforts in this matter.
“I was very pleased to see many young and older women involved in this festival, I loved the fact that I could easily walk up to any table and see both men and women willing to inform me,” said Lluvia Partida, Santa Clarita’s Youth of the Year. “I think it’s amazing that women are entering the space field. It was definitely something powerful and I’m not surprised that women were standing up for education and experience.”
Partida is not a college student yet, still she is excited about possibly attending COC one day, considering there are places like the Maker Space, which encourage women’s participation in science.
Students have accomplished various tasks with access to the resources at Maker Space. Particularly, a group of roughly 30 students participate in COC’s Payload Program, which allows students to partner with NASA on one of their projects. This project has COC students competing with Ivy League schools like Harvard.
“Most of the parts for our project with NASA have been built using the Maker Space equipment,” said Arthur Berberyan, a student at COC and member of the Payload Program’s chemical team.
The group created a machine that goes up into space. The machine includes a chamber designed to collect stratospheric atmosphere through a laminar flow intake. Using the Maker Space equipment, the group was able to build aluminum parts that allow for the stability and protection of the particles collected.
“We’ve been able to build really cool things, and we’ve learned so much from the people at Maker Space guiding us through the process of building the parts for this project,” said Berberyan.
Most students wanting to enter the fields of technology and innovation, view the Maker Space as a place to learn and gain experience from. Students that use the Maker Space have to know how to handle power tools and complex machinery in order to build their projects. With the help of faculty, students can gain experience through building small projects such as a wooden sign, or a metal art piece, to building more complex projects such as the one for NASA.
“I think the biggest achievement I see from using the Maker Space, is learning how to build stuff and getting experience that you can put on your resume,” said Berberyan.
Since the fields of technology and innovation have become more competitive over the years, it is significant to have some experience.
“Maker Space can help provide a setting for collaboration which is key to innovation and problem solving,” said Michael Ma, Chief Designer at Applied Minds Inc. “It can help to cultivate creativity in the students who are truly passionate.”
Maker Space has a summer workshop available for students at COC. Since the Maker Space only opens during the school semester, the workshop provides students with the opportunity to continue developing their creative skills during the summer. The 2018 National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers summer workshop focuses on helping students advance their technological and innovative abilities and makes use of the Maker Space tools and machinery. The NCATC is a paid workshop in partnership with the Fabricators & Manufactures Association International.
The workshop takes place June 4 to June 5.