Make Your Own Space

The best thing you’ve never heard of is just across campus


Students utilize the Makerspace at its open house on September 6, 2019. Photo courtesy of Mala Arthur.

At first glance, you wouldn’t guess it to be much more than a large metal shed surrounded by chain-link fencing with some sofas planted outside. Slide open the expansive metal door though, and it transforms into a huge workshop, filled with tools and artwork. Not to mention the fridge stocked with cold waters and sodas for members to use at only a dollar per drink, perfect for those hot school days.

Sure, you could go to the library after class and stare at the computer for two hours to pass the time. Why not go to the Makerspace instead? The Makerspace allows you to sew patches from a favorite band or place onto your old denim jacket, and with the holiday season coming up in a few months, the Makerspace is the perfect spot to create your gifts by customizing mugs, shirts, stickers and signs.

The Mountie Makerspace, located in building F7, is home to one of the most creative communities on campus. Members of the Makerspace use the amenities to make robots for robotics competitions, design signs for their businesses, build metal sculptures and more.

Students, faculty and community members alike come to the Makerspace regularly to work on and discuss projects, as well as relax with friends and complete homework. For the students and faculty who don’t have extra cash to spare, there is no fee for becoming a member and using the facilities, but donations are appreciated by the staff.

What makes the Makerspace a hidden gem on campus is the sense of belonging members can find while working on projects for class or personal creations.

Mala Arthur, Project Manager at the Makerspace, is one of the driving forces behind the space’s existence and has the kind of inviting presence that would make even the most shy students feel right at home. In her own words, “It’s a place where people from all different walks of life and levels of ability can meet and be creative together, and support each other in being creative.”

While it might seem like a building with 3D printers, welders, drill presses and laser cutters would only appeal to students in tech or STEM fields, the Makerspace has a diverse student membership profile. With 217 students from arts, humanities and social sciences alone, the space caters to all.

It could be easily intimidating to members who have never used wood cutting tools before or have no idea what a sewing machine does, but Arthur doesn’t think this should scare students away.

“Students come in, they don’t know how to do something, then they’re baffled and they’re embarrassed,” Arthur said. “You feel stupid asking somebody, but we try to tell everybody ‘Hey, we all fail.’ We all need to ask somebody, we all need to look things up on the internet, and that’s all ok.”

Arthur also emphasized the level of support that exists in the Makerspace, and how it can benefit students in the long run.

“People come in here, they’re hesitant, their shoulders are slumped forward, and their heads are down. Then they walk out with their heads up and shoulders back. They’re like, ‘Yes! I can do it. We’re hoping to get another grant to show that that confidence extends to success in school.”

As for funding, the Makerspace was previously receiving a grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office that recently expired in May 2019. Since then, the space has been trying to apply for grants from the National Science Foundation, and gather funding from the administration. Arthur said that they have been assured funding at least for this fall semester, and most likely the rest of the school year.

While the Makerspace may have to cut back its hours of operation in order to stay open with the funds available, it isn’t going anywhere.

Currently, the space is open from Mondays to Thursdays from 4 to 10 p.m. and on Fridays from 3 to 10 p.m., which is perfect for blowing off steam after class or knocking out some post-lecture homework assignments.

If there’s one thing you should know about the Makerspace, according to Arthur, it’s that the space is “open to everybody, even if they feel like they’re not very creative, they can still come in and even make something small for a club, like make buttons or design a shirt.”

“They don’t have to feel like their creativity is on the line to be judged, they can just try making it to see what it’s like,” she said.

As the Makerspace remains a creative hub on campus, its message is clear: it doesn’t matter whether you feel more comfortable browsing Home Depot or H&M, the Makerspace is a space for you, first and foremost.