A broad definition of a makerspace is a work space that brings together individuals, tools and projects. Although makerspaces can have different kinds of equipment (from sawing machines to 3D printers to clay) and focus (from electronics to robotics to programming), they all share the same purpose: to facilitate exploration, collaboration and making.
The journey of Middlebury’s makerspace started in January 2015 when Leo McElroy (’18) & Joey Button (’17) could not find a place on campus to build an electric car. In the years that followed Leo & Joey applied for funding, gathered student, faculty and alumni support and in the spring of 2017 the College administration agreed to convert an existing space (the Bunker) into a makerspace. In the fall of 2017 renovations began and on Friday, May 11th 2018 the College makerspace opened its doors to the College community at large with a 24(ish) hour make-a-thon, which included presentations and workshops from local makers and guest speakers.
Currently the Middlebury makerspace—aka the Middlebury Environment for Making Everything (MEME)—is part of the Center for Creativity, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (Innovation Hub) and is a complementary space to the Old Stone Mill, Annex, and M Gallery. It is equipped with a laser cutter, 3D printers, computer-controlled milling machines and a variety of other making tools.
The plans for the fall are to make it accessible to all students, faculty and staff, organize training workshops and host events. There has already been interest among faculty who have created assignments that demonstrate understanding through the creation of a project, students who are eager to fabricate components for their senior theses and campus organizations that want to hold events, such as a Repair Cafe, in the space.