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Engineering and entrepreneurship meet in Endicott’s new "makerspace"

December 7, 2016

In a busy room on the second floor of Endicott College’s Ginger Judge Science Center, students turn entrepreneurial ideas into rapid-ready prototypes in a movement known as ‘21st Century Shop.’ Replacing traditional machining skills with software and fabrication knowledge, students of all majors come together to learn firsthand how business product ideas become successful ventures, moving from the lab to the real world. 

This ‘makerspace’ is fully-equipped with cutting-edge technology including 3D printing and scanning equipment, microcontrollers, sensors, and computers with design software. A collaboration between the School of Arts and Sciences and School of Business, it is also closely affiliated with Endicott’s Angle Center for Entrepreneurship. As part of the College’s mission to integrate with north shore businesses, the makerspace seeks to be an asset to local innovation as a collaborative design resource in addition to a home for more academic pursuits.

Makerspace staff with five-foot sailboat"The energy flowing out from the makerspace onto campus has been fantastic,” said Greg Meyerhoff, Endicott’s Project Engineer and Makerspace Coordinator. “Students are interested in personal projects with 3D printing and electronics, and faculty are integrating the makerspace into their curricula. I’m excited to assist students with building their ideas, as well as research and develop various prototypes for faculty who’ve presented real-world problems for which they are seeking innovative engineering solutions. The makerspace is truly becoming a notable mark on campus."

To highlight and promote campus-wide use of the new space, Meyerhoff and Justin Topp, Assistant Dean of Science, Technology and Mathematics, created the course Designing, Making, and Building in the Digital World, available now to students of all majors and taught by Meyerhoff. The class has a three-tiered approach; those who enroll will learn how to code, how to use 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software and how to design a product that will benefit the consumer. The first-ever course offering started in September with a theme of “wearables”; students are learning to develop and build a wearable device that will benefit athletes. While the course is scientific in nature, it draws students from a variety of majors including graphic design and business. Meyerhoff hopes the class’ creative tilt that plays to current popular interest in 3D design will appeal to non-science majors who are looking to become more familiar with engineering.

Use of the space and training on utilizing its resources is available to anyone on campus who wants to use the equipment and materials. Meyerhoff has begun setting up tutorials on how to design a product from scratch, as well as hosting build nights, starting this semester, where people can come together to learn and work on engineering projects in a social setting. Faculty from the School of Visual and Performing Arts recently participated in a 3D printing, prototyping and innovative solutions training to get familiarized with the space’s offerings – Interior Design faculty and students are in the midst of designing and building an interactive art display using the makerspace that, once complete, will appear in the Manninen Center for the Arts.

Other classes utilize the makerspace in addition to the one specifically designed to take advantage of it; the Intro to Engineering Design course has been using 3D printers as part of its curriculum for years, and now the dedicated space is offering even more potential for expanded use.

Marine Technology and the Educational Passages Sailboat

A current project in the makerspace is a five-foot, self-steering Educational Passages sailboat.  The project, a unique collaboration between Endicott’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the City of Gloucester, and the Marine Oceanographic Technology Network and Gloucester Innovation, began with a crowdfunding effort to purchase the boat.  The collaboration continued when its on-board telemetry was designed.  The boat, the “Ginger Judge” - named after a prominent Endicott alumna - will be placed far out to sea and be powered by wind and current. Such drifter boats have ended up in Africa, Europe and the Arctic.  All along its journey, its on-board technology will beam up data to the Iridium satellite network.  The boat’s progress will be able to be tracked by anyone who has access to the Internet. 

“The Educational Passages boat has brought together Endicott students from science, business and art to work on the project,” said Deirdre Sartorelli, Director of the Angle Center for Entrepreneurship. “They have had productive exposure to our extraordinary and generous project partners. The learning from this collaboration will help build the foundation for a marine robotic project in the spring.”

To stay up-to-date with all makerspace news, follow @ECMakerspace and @EndicottCollege on social media and check in on the hashtag #STEMAheadEC.