Makerspaces make an impact

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

The CCC Maker Initiative led colleges to embrace a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

From July 2016 to May 2019, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office’s Workforce and Economic Division funded the $17 million CCC Maker Initiative. The goal was to grow a statewide network of makerspaces linked to community colleges and develop a workforce for the digital or innovation economy. These makerspaces have integrated hands-on making and familiarity with digital design and fabrication into current pedagogies and curricula.

Twenty-four colleges were awarded grants ranging from $100,000 to $350,000 to help with implementation of makerspaces. These colleges also committed to arranging internships for students.

In a new impact report, colleges share strategies and stories of transformation.

A collective

Allan Hancock College has limited available space on campus for a standalone makerspace. The college sought to leverage local resources in the form of a partnership with the Santa Maria Public Library (SMPL) and the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum (SMVDM). Together, they are the Central Coast Makerspace Collective. Though they serve different demographics, all had wanted to create hands-on opportunities and offer a welcoming space for those who may not have access otherwise.

Grant funding allowed the collaborative to create makerspaces in each location and collaborate on cross-organizational programming.

On the AHC campus, pop-up makerspaces have been hosted in the culinary arts kitchen, in the ceramics lab and the library. The college also hosts an internship program where college students work in the library and museum makerspaces.

From the ground up

Butte College’s makerspace was built from the ground up. Though it was a huge undertaking, “that allowed them the ability to research and design a space that Butte students genuinely wanted to use, based on student feedback,” the report says. Students have used the makerspace to create products—such as custom T-shirts and shoes—that they can market and sell online or in local stores and the campus bookstore.

In 2018, the area was hit hard by a wild fire. The college was closed for three weeks, but when the doors opened, an unexpected thing happened: The Create Space Maker Lab became a safe haven for the campus community, “a place where students and faculty could come together and lean on the camaraderie that came from making together,” according to the report. There were fundraising efforts kickstarted during that time, through the sale of T-shirts made in the space.

All departments across the college are welcomed into the space. Every Monday and Wednesday, there’s a special event hosted for staff that gives people an opportunity to tour the space and make something.

The report has several more case studies and student stories. Request it here.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.