MakerSpace is making again

Area reopens after being closed since May

Nattilie Sanso | Staff Writers |

Students join Solómon Garza making vinyl cutting holiday decorations on Dec. 1 during the MakerSpace workshop. Photo by Anyssa Logan.

After being closed since May of 2022, the MakerSpace has reopened for pop-up events and will resume with regular hours starting in the Spring semester due to the hire of a new manager.
Solómon “Sol” Garza started work as the project design manager of the MakerSpace on Nov. 14. He graduated from Middlebury College, with a degree in Architectural Studies. He has experience working with 3D animation and modeling. “I have always been interested in the digital to physical workflow and bringing things into the real world,” Garza said.
Originally a TV room, the MakerSpace is filled with machines such as laser cutters, vinyl cutters, sewing machines and 3D printers. “We use a combination of those to bring people’s imaginations to life,” said Project Specialist Willow Schaefer ’23. Materials or the workshops are provided by the school. individuals wanting to do specialized personal projects may need to suppy some materials. The MakerSpace, which opened six years ago, temporarily closed while it struggled to find someone to take over management of the space. Previous manager, McKenna Poppenga, worked in the MakerSpace for a year and a half before leaving at the end of the last school year to take a teaching job. A new manager was hired a week and a half before the start of the 2022 fall semester, but they left the job after a day due to personal reasons, according to Anne Crowley, the associate director of educational technology. At the same time, the job for AV Technology Classroom Support also became available.
Due to the short staff, the MakerSpace was unable to reopen as usual at the beginning of the school year. “We just didn’t have the ability to be open. It wasn’t something that we wanted to do at all. It just really wasn’t feasible to keep the space open,” Crowley said.
When searching for a new manager, Joe Pawlaczyk, the Director of Information Technology and a member of the hiring committee, was looking for a specific kind of person for this position. “We were looking for somebody that was going to be very welcoming and bring a lot of energy and excitement,” Pawlaczyk said. Schaefer, who has worked in the MakerSpace for three years, is looking for a manager that is passionate about their work and is dedicated to advertising the space. “One thing is enthusiasm and drive because there’s a lot of things that need to happen in the MakerSpace. We’ve always had some trouble with budgets and were trying to get some new machines,” Schaefer said.
The hiring committee believes they have found these qualities in Garza. “I’m definitely passionate about helping the entire campus community – students, staff, faculty – connect with the space,” Garza said. He wants to emphasize that the MakerSpace is open and welcoming to everyone and there are no prerequisites to use the space. “I have a lot of experience with this technology, but I still remember what it’s like when you first use it,” Garza said. “I just want to get over those initial hurdles of fear of messing up.”
“The atmosphere is really chill,” Schaefer said. “We usually have music playing in the background. It’s overall just a really chill, creative environment that everyone can enjoy.”
The MakerSpace is only open for events for the remainder of the fall semester before opening fully in the spring. In an effort to get the word out about the reopening, the MakerSpace tab of the SMC portal as well as the Daily Digest will be updated with event details. There will also be flyers, according to Garza, and the MakerSpace instagram will be active.
Holiday Crafts Workshop, the first pop-up event, occurred on Wednesday, Dec. 1. “I love it here,” said Amy Hylen ’25 who attended the workshop. “It’s a very unique space. Everyone here is just so caring and supportive.” Hylen has completed several projects at the MakerSpace since being a student at St. Michael’s College. She has collaborated with the MakerSpace as a part of Student Government Association (SGA) where she serves as Co-Secretary of Programming. She hopes to work with the MakerSpace in other clubs she is involved with. “The Random Acts of Kindness Club is really hoping to collaborate in the future. We would also love to see a button maker,” Hylen said.
According to the event details posted in the Daily Digest, Laser Cutting Holiday Ornaments will be held today between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. In addition, a Holiday Needle Felting Workshop will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. The MakerSpace has scheduled guest artist Liz Hamlin-Volz to teach felting on Dec. 14. This event requires sign-up that is available via a link in the Daily Digest or the MakerSpace tab of the SMC portal.
Starting in the spring semester, the MakerSpace will open for regular hours each week. These hours have not been established as of yet, however, according to Crowley, the MakerSpace is interested in holding later hours than in previous years. There is the possibility that the space will be open until 7:00 pm some nights and possibly open on Sundays as well. The MakerSpace team wants the space to be accessible for as many students as possible. There is also the possibility of job opportunities for student staff in the MakerSpace becoming available in the spring semester.
“You don’t have to have a project in mind to come here. Just c’mon and see what happens,” Garza said.