Creation Spaces Bring Ideas to Life
Creation spaces are places where people can take a rough idea and experiment, design, improve or reimagine a concept. Luckily for the Wolfpack, there are specialized spaces across campus with different audiences and resources available.
Ever wanted to learn how to use a CNC mill? Maybe you’ve considered digital embroidery or creating a 3D prototype of a concept you’d like to commercialize? There are spaces for all of these unique use cases and more… MUCH more.
In the spirit of Think and Do, NC State has empowered units across campus to equip spaces, outside of traditional research labs, with the equipment and expertise to coach students, provide tools and materials, and offer support in showcasing ideas.
Finding the Space for You
Where are they? Great question. These spaces are known as makerspaces, prototyping and coworking, studio or design labs, or simply as a “creation space”, and they are located on both Main Campus and Centennial Campus. These range in focus from a specific college or major, like the METRC makerspace in Poe Hall for College of Education and Psychology students, to the makerspace and innovation spaces at the libraries that are open to all of campus.
Eren Hebert, lead technician at the Entrepreneurship Garage, cites the beneficial collisions and friendly community of like-minded peers as a major selling point for joining a space on campus. In addition to faculty and staff experts and resources, others working in the space can offer insight and support in bringing projects to life. He’s able to see these stellar venture concepts and prototypes up close and evolve with each design iteration.
One recent student took advantage of the Garage’s 3D printer and electronics equipment offerings to print custom hardware enclosures and complete the final assembly of his proprietary IOT solution. “We focus on a hands-off approach with help available to our members when they need it,” according to Hebert. To join, members must first apply and complete a safety orientation. This grants them a dual membership to the Engineering Entrepreneurs Program lab.
Other spaces, like the Craft Center’s C:LAB or the libraries’ suite of music rooms, video studio, 4K video space and makerspace are open to all NC State students with a mix of classes, workshops, tools and consultations.
One campus expert, Adam Rogers, has been a leader in the build-out of the DH Hill makerspace and several other innovation spaces on campus. He points to the openness and approachability of these spaces as adding value for so many on campus. “Really any kind of student benefits! A prime reason for adding Makerspaces to our Libraries has been that these tools and ways of working are useful to students in all the disciplines and colleges at NC State. Our tools are readily accessible in a way that specialized labs cannot be,” according to Rogers. “Students who have ideas they are motivated to bring to life, problems they are itching to solve, research areas they are excited to explore—they have the most to gain from our campus making spaces.”
He remembers a textiles design student who came to the makerspace with no prior experience in electronics, but found a supportive group of students working there to help her bring a project to life for the Cotton Incorporated Design Contest.
“It was really cool to see her finished product: an interactive tapestry illuminated by woven-in LED lights. But it was just as cool to see how she knew all of our Makerspace student workers’ various expertises and got help from so many of them,” Rogers said.
Whether looking to expand your horizons with Textiles-based projects for an emerging designers showcase, launch your own Etsy shop, or to explore resources through dedicated fabrication spaces that are restricted to specific colleges like the Design Materials Lab or ECE makerspace, NC State almost certainly offers a space and some dedicated time with faculty and staff to help turn those ideas into creations. Helpful info can be found on each program’s website on applications, restrictions or amenities for each space — so make plans to visit or join a space this semester.