Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace uOttawa and sit down with some of the instructors there to find out what exactly Makerspace uOttawa is and what it does. Makerspace is a place on the University of Ottawa campus where students and members of the community alike come together to create things. The facility has 3D printers, arduino boards, laser cutters, an oculus rift headset, 3D scanners and many other devices that allow an individual’s creativity to flourish. Students and members of the community come to this place in order to use the various tools there to create amazing things. They can do anything, from designing and 3D printing a phone case for your phone, or even designing and 3D printing a prosthetic hand for someone. This was the case for Sebastian Chavarria, a young boy who benefited from the Makerspace prosthetic design challenge, where engineering students at uOttawa were challenged to design and 3D print a prosthetic hand for young Sebastian in 2015.
When one first enters Makerspace, they might be overwhelmed by the amount of technology in the room. One might even think that there is no way to possibly learn how to use any of the machines. However, Makerspace conducts workshops year round in order for people to become proficient with their machines. After attending these workshops, students can come to the Makerspace whenever it is open to make their ideas a reality. Instructors and trained volunteers are always available to help anyone who walks in with any project they have in mind. That way, even if you are not totally comfortable using the machines, someone will always be there to help and make sure that doesn’t stop you from creating. Makerspace, however, is not just limited to the uOttawa campus. Makermobile is a truck from Makerspace with some of the same machines found at the campus site which drives all over Canada to educate and promote interest in science and engineering. Makermobile has been extremely successful and has conducted around 800 workshops throughout Canada, showing children and young adults the joys of science and engineering. In addition to Makermobile, Makerspace also offers a summer program for kids to come and learn how to use their machines and to educate them about science and engineering through fun and innovative workshops
Makerspace also works in conjunction with difference makers to help foster entrepreneurship and community outreach. Difference makers is another organization at uOttawa which teaches creative problem-solving skills to foster innovation and entrepreneurial action. Together, these two organizations have worked together to provide 3D printed prosthetics to amputated refugees of the Syrian war, which they plan to distribute in December to Syrian refugees at a refugee camp in Lebanon. In addition to all this, Doctors from the Civic hospital at Ottawa come to Makerspace to 3D print models of hearts, liver and bone structures that they use to educate other young doctors in fellowship.
Makerspace is organizing the first ever makers conference in Canada called the Ontario Makers and Mentors Innovation Conference(OMMIC). This conference features makers, students, speakers and entrepreneurs from all over Canada coming together to design and educate. The conference will have two different design competitions for both high school and university students, as well as speakers and educators who will inspire attendees. The conference will be held in Ottawa from October 28-30, 2016 and promises to showcase a lot of innovative ideas and designs, as well as give entrepreneurs with bright ideas the chance to connect with educators and mentors who will help to guide and realize their ideas. Since its inception, Makerspace uOttawa has grown and proved to be of great benefit to the community and the people who use it. It has shown to be a place where various people from all walks of life can come together with only their ideas and imagination and create amazing things that can make life a little easier for everyone.
My immense gratitude to Sharon Olivia Eddy for taking the time to talk to me about Makerspace. If you are interested in being a volunteer at Makerspace or just want to check it out come to the Colonel By building, Room B109A.
Author: Alexander Adetu
Currently in my third year of Civil Engineering at the University Of Ottawa. When I am not blogging for ESSCO, I spend my time studying for long hours in the library and listening to music.