Energizing the Maker Culture

Andrew Carnegie Society members invest in CMU's maker ecosystem workbenches

By Deborah Taylor

Junior mechanical engineering major Elizabeth Armon appreciates the workbenches in Carnegie Mellon University’s Tech Spark maker facility and how they transform into individual workshops that enhance learning and collaboration.

“I took a DIY class in molding which utilized these benches as a space to work together and develop awesome casts. Previously the class met in small groups rather than all together,” she says. “By expanding the space and resources, I was able to get more out of my class work.”

New developments across campus activate student learning and prepare tomorrow’s visionary thinkers and inventors.

The generous gifts of current and past Andrew Carnegie Society donors made possible the inclusion of seven workbenches in the Tech Spark, located inside the renovated Hamerschlag Hall, that are enhancing the College of Engineering educational experience.

A cornerstone of the college’s maker ecosystem and Carnegie Mellon’s maker culture, the Tech Spark houses equipment for rapid prototyping, woodworking, fabrication, product design and other types of manufacturing. The benches provide dedicated areas for undergraduates to broaden their hands-on learning and personal development ― helping to spark ideas.

“Learning by doing is an integral part of the educational experience for students in the College of Engineering. We are thankful for the generous donors who have provided opportunities for our students to collaborate, create and innovate.” Allen Robinson, David and Susan Coulter Head and Raymond J. Lane Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Engineering and Public Policy

The benches can be reconfigured according to students’ needs ― for course requirements, student organization projects and collaborating with classmates on group assignments ― and are located within a fully functional machine shop. Laser-cutting machines, 3-D printers, soldering stations, power tools, welding equipment, metal mills and other technical machinery fuel student invention. With these resources, students, faculty and staff across CMU disciplines can transform their ideas into reality and focus on collaborative innovation.

This maker space pulses with the invention-generating energy that surges from CMU’s diverse majors and projects. Engineering, design, art, computer science, business, architecture and art students use the benches to contribute to the rich interplay of ideas that leads to accomplishments.

“These workbenches are the main meeting spot for our students. We encourage students from all departments to come here with whatever projects they want to work on,” says Charles Gaglione, managing director of the Tech Spark.

The support provided by generous ACS donors is helping to accelerate the College of Engineering’s learning-by-making student experience and the remarkable innovations it will produce as technology and manufacturing continue to evolve.

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Gena Henry
College of Engineering
Associate Dean for Advancement