Oceanside CA— MiraCosta College is taking the lead in the local makerspace movement. To describe them simply, makerspaces are places where students gather to invent, design, prototype and create manufactured works. By combining equipment, community and education, makerspaces enable students to collectively create things that they would not be able to do as individuals.
Thanks to $40,000 in seed funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and with the promise of securing a two-year grant of up to $700,000 on the horizon, MiraCosta College is designing plans for a new makerspace where faculty will embed the maker mentality into their curriculum and employers will provide internships to students – all in the name of boosting instruction in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEM/STEAM).
“It is an effort to bring back the maker movement, but at a different level with new tools and new technology,” said Paul Clarke, chair of the Design Department, who is leading the MiraCosta College effort.
MiraCosta was one of some three-dozen California community colleges that in January were granted the first of two $20,000 seed grant installments after qualifying for the statewide effort, with a second installment set to arrive after submitting an implementation plan in May.
Implementation plans will be reviewed at the state level in June, and that can lead to $100,000 to $350,000 per year for Implementation Grants for two years ending in May 2019. Participating colleges are being asked to develop or expand a makerspace that fits the campus’s interests and capabilities, engages credit faculty to integrate making into the curriculum, facilitates student internships and work-based learning, and supports students in preparing for STEM/STEAM careers.
Makerspaces have been described as community spaces with tools. Collaborative work areas that can be found just about anywhere and can be open to just about anyone, they are often equipped with a variety of maker equipment, including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and more.
MiraCosta College is not starting from scratch. The Design Department at the Oceanside Campus currently has a small makerspace that has partnered with other departments to craft models of protein structures for biology classrooms to replacement parts for classic cars being worked on in the Automotive Department.
The California Community College Maker Initiative is funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Workforce and Economic Division, under the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy framework, and it is being touted as the first statewide community college makerspace program of its kind in the nation to enhance STEM/STEAM education. Sierra College near Sacramento is the fiscal agent for the $17 million effort, and Pasadena City College near Los Angeles has been selected as the Technical Assistance Provider to help participating campuses develop their makerspace.