By Allison Campbell-Jensen
In the bright, yet somewhat austere environment of the Health Sciences Education Center, the Health Sciences Library Makerspace stands out, with colorful displays in its windows and — inside its doors — intriguing tools, 3D printers, and plenty of tables to spread out a project.
To counteract the preponderance of metal fixtures and other things that offer an industrial vibe, for instance, the team that runs the Makerspace uses hand-lettered signage and a playful aesthetic to convey warmth and openness.
“We want to honor the knowledge and creativity that people bring into the space,” says Carolyn Bishoff, Innovation Lead. She and the team, which includes Reference Specialist Ai Miller and student employees, understand that people may bring preconceived ideas of what the Makerspace is when they visit.
This space — its equipment, its whimsical approach, and its meaningful outcomes — is meant for everyone connected to the U who wishes to explore their craft skills and their creativity.
Bishoff is training her team to approach with warmth people lurking at the door or tentatively entering the space.
“We only have one shot with any one person,” Bishoff says. “All of us have tremendous power to make anyone feel welcome — or not.”
The Makerspace could be intimidating, she notes, and at times these sorts of production spaces feel like they are for techies, or were made more for men than for women.
Sara Abbas seems to feel right at home, however, with a familiar rapport with Bishoff and Miller. She is using the 3D printer to make a model of a liver (in blue plastic). She is enrolled in the Physician Associate Program jointly managed by UM Rochester and the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.
Don’t know how to run a 3D printer? They will teach you. Don’t have a yen for high tech? There are coloring pages, sewing machines, and, for the week we visited, an origami Goldy head to fold — don’t forget the googly eyes.
Not sure if this Makerspace is for you? It is.
Stop by anytime, noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.