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make/SHIFT Virtual: Top 11 Tips from Day One

NACCE Blog ,

Imagine your community college infusing the practice of making into the learning process. People of all ages and backgrounds could come together in a "sticky" space where they feel safe and welcomed, learning new skills, engaging in community projects, and ultimately serving the needs of their local community. This creative, collaborative space might be a full-blown lab, a bus, a library, a counter in a wide hallway, or a traveling cart. Makerspaces bring people together – those who love to make, and those that don’t know that they are makers… yet!

Day 1 of NACCE’s make/SHIFT virtual explored how to organize and design your makerspace, create an ecosystem, and find funding for your makerspace.

Here are my top 11 takeaways from Day 1 of make/SHIFT Virtual.

  1. Always start with WHY, and expand your goals.
    Why do you need a makerspace? What are your students’ current needs? How do you envision your community utilizing the makerspace?

  2. Get faculty, staff, and student support.
    Explain to any and all who will listen how makerspaces increase community engagement and workforce development goals, then get them making! Invite your colleagues and leadership to a maker event, and remember, students are your greatest superpower! Promote peer-to-peer learning by empowering them to lead workshops with and for your community.

  3. Seek out available or under-utilized spaces.
    Start small and use what you have. Grow upon your successes.

  4. Be adaptable, accessible and inclusive… and friendly, patient, and polite!
    Make everyone feel welcome. Consider different levels of training, volunteer support, and student engagement. The goal is to invite people to be curious about what they can do in your space, and build confidence along the way.

  5. Say YES to any opportunity that presents itself.
    Invited to speak at an event or guest lecture? Yes! Someone needs help printing/making? Yes! There’s a cool grant opportunity available? Yes! Do you take donated equipment? Yes! Build momentum with every small victory.

  6. Specialized equipment: start small and begin with prototyping.
    You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on cutters or 3D printers to start your makerspace. Not sure what you need? Ask your peers at other colleges how they got started, or talk to MatterHackers about equipment recommendations! 

  7. Failure is part of the process.
    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check out our Making Center of Practice for tools and resources, and look for a collaborative discussion forum, coming soon!

  8. Network and collaborate. 
    Visit other makerspaces, study best practices, and remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make an impact. Consider partnering with like-minded organizations. For instance, many of us learned during day one that LCCC’s Fab Lab is only the second Fab Lab Foundation “Super Lab” in the world. Leverage the experience of our network!

  9. Funding and equipment can come from a variety of sources.
    Leverage what you have, but keep an eye out for grants, federal funding, corporate partnerships, and community funders.  

  10. Monitor change and adapt.
    Your college and community environment aren’t evergreen – they are always changing! Consider how makerspaces pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic to print PPE for hospitals and other organizations.   

  11. Communicate frequently and hone your message.
    Makerspace stakeholders are diverse and could include faculty and staff, chambers of commerce, students, corporate partners, alumni, and foundation donors. Keep them informed and engaged...you never know when a new opportunity may come knocking!

Embrace the idea of makerspaces and drive change and growth in your community.


For more information, we encourage you to investigate the Maker Movement Manifesto, by Mark Hatch, and spend some time with AACC resources, including 2020 Fast Facts, the Recommendation on Online Education for CTE/RTI Programs and The Economics of a Mindful Return for Community College CTE Programming.

NACCE thanks today's speakers, Dr. Rebecca Corbin, NACCE; Dr. Rick MacLennan and Ryan Arnold, North Idaho College; Israel Garza, IDEAStudio & IDEAS Academy; Dr. Butch Herod, the West Houston Institute at Houston Community College; Clare Sadnik, Moorpark College; Dr. Melody Graveen and Donnell Layne, Moreno Valley College; Mara Hitner, MatterHackers; Ana McClanahan, College of Alameda; and, Jennifer Worth, AACC.