With the newest installation in the Math and Engineering Building on the Levelland campus, students can now produce ideas in a space designed to promote creativity.
Room 121 was recently converted from a regular classroom to a “maker space,” which is set to have a grand opening on Oct. 19 at 11 a.m., even though the space is currenty open for students to use.
According to Dr. Ramesh Krishnan, professor of engineering at SPC, a maker space is a room where students can take their ideas and apply physical elements to them, whether it’s writing down ideas on a board, or building a prototype out of pipe cleaners or Popsicle sticks.
“Students can come and ideate whatever they have and bring it to something tangible,” Dr. Krishnan told the Plainsman Press.
Dr. Krishnan says the idea of creating a maker space comes from Stanford University.
“We met a guy in a place called ‘the Google Garage,” Dr. Krishnan said. “He was using a 3-D printer. I asked what he was doing, and he said, ‘I don’t like my cell phone case, so I’m just making another one.’”
Currently, the SPC maker space does not have a 3-D printer. However, students have access to a variety of materials that can be used to create physical prototypes of solutions to whatever they desire to solve. According to Dr. Krishnan, the maker space will be available to anybody who has the desire to use it.
“The misconception is that the room is only to be used by engineering students,” Dr. Krishnan said. “Our vision is that anybody on campus is welcome to use the maker space. What would the non-engineering students use the maker space for? Well, you can prototype any kind of solution. For example, farmers can get together and figure out how to solve pest issues.”
Most of the surfaces in the maker space, including the tops of desks and the walls, have the ability to be written on with a dry erase marker. This allows for the room to be conducive to a creative atmosphere, according to Dr. Krishnan. The furniture of the space is movable, allowing for the room to be rearranged with ease, which he says is also important for the creative atmosphere.
“It’s more like a play room than anything else,” Dr. Krishnan said. “You can use anything that you want and be creative with all of the stuff. If you get five people together, you can arrange the furniture to fit your needs. We don’t want this space to look the same. Because mentally, you become dull every time you see the same space, so it should always be changing.”
According to Dr. Krishnan, conventional classrooms may not always have the ability to increase a student’s productive creativity. He says that the maker space promotes student interaction and creativity.
“I’ve talked to students who are already using the space and asked how the room has benefited them,” Dr. Krishnan said. “They love it, because they’re able to get together, talk and have fun. It is a different environment that fosters creativity.”