1 cr Makerspace Leadership and Outreach
SPIRE: School of Public Policy – SPP 597M
Wednesdays, 4:00-5:15, 3rd floor Du Bois library, Digital Media Lab

Special Spring 2019 Edition!
Recruiting students to help creating an all-campus “Maker Network” called “Makers@UMass”

A makerspace is a physical location where people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and build. The ‘Maker Culture’ emphasizes learning though doing-it-yourself, or doing-it-together, in a social environment and utilizing open access licensed materials available on the Internet.

Professors Charlie Schweik (Environmental Conservation, School of Public Policy) and Steve Acquah (Director of the W.E.B Du Bois Library Digital Media Lab) are trying to identify an interdisciplinary set of students for the ongoing 1-cr “Makerspace Leadership and Outreach” un-course (4:00-5:15 pm on Wednesdays, Digital Media Lab, 3rd Floor DuBois Library). We refer to it as an “un-course” because the majority of the class is devoted to allowing interdisciplinary teams of students to research and work on projects that they WANT to work on (and often on something where they are trying to change the world).

Spring 2019 is a particularly exciting class in that we are looking for students who would be interested in helping build an all-campus “Maker-Network” at UMass Amherst.

Consequently, in this version of the course, students have three different options:

  1. Propose and develop an “Introduction to Makerspace Technology X” and deliver this workshop either on campus or at an off-campus makerspace such as Makers@AmherstMedia or Make-it Springfield, or both. This effort is to help initiate the new “Makers@UMass” community on campus. Ideas for workshops could be an introduction to (1) Ardunio programming; (2) 3D design and printing; (3) Virtual Reality; (4) Stop-action movie-making; (4) some Art-related making workshop; or (5) some other workshop idea that you might have (and they can be much simpler maker technology too such as making for elementary school children).
  2. Join an existing a student-driven, interdisciplinary “semester-to-semester” project already underway (more information available here):
    • Arduino-based Air Quality Sensor – skills needed: Arduino programming, aerosol chemistry
    • Water pollution detection system – skills needed: CAD, coding, software engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, analytical chemistry, Spanish (the project involves communication with the University of Los Andes in Columbia)
    • Piezo-Wind tower – develop a vertical axis wind turbine and the use of Piezoelectric sensors. Icons project. Skills needed: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering
    • Ph soil sensor probe – project working under loose support from UMass alum Rob Ryan-Silva with the company DAI in Washington D.C. Skills needed: Arduino coding, soil scientist.
    • Gravity light teardown – project working under loose support from UMass alum Rob Ryan-Silva with the company DAI in Washington D.C. Skills needed: Physics, possibly CAD, mechanical engineering.
    • Showertimer – A current iCons project working to reduce shower time through conscious behavior. Skills needed: Arduino coding, electrical engineering.
    • Precious Plastics. Build a set of machines to shred, extrude, inject and compress plastic for reuse. Skills needed: Mechanical engineering with a desire to help work on a campus sustainability project.
    • Small Business Federal Contracting workshop: Develop and implement workshop for small businesses to go after federal contracting funds. Skills needed: Business or Public Policy students with an interest to learn from previous student how to apply for small business contracts under the “HUBZone” program, and work to run an outreach workshop to small business owners.

  3. Or propose your own new project idea by yourself or with some friends! And note — maker projects do not always have to involve technology!

No prerequisites for the course except the desire to learn, to research and to ‘make.’ The requirements will be to meet once a week (4:00-5:15 on Wednesdays) and spend ~3 hours per week on the project outside of class, with periodic progress reports and some project defined deliverable at the end.

To sign up, look for the course on SPIRE: School of Public Policy (SPP) 597M: “Makerspace Leadership and Outreach” or email