Jim O’Connor, a local artist and the Maker-in-Residence in Mullica Hill, explained what the maker movement is and the reason behind the grant money that allowed the Makerstudios@GCLS to be created.
“The Maker movement is…a group of people impassioned by making stuff. It can be everything, we have a garden space here, we do a lot of 3D printing, we do some electronics… and the library has always been into arts and craft classes, but now they’ve kind of been kind of pulled into the Maker Movement as a whole. A lot of schools know this as STEM or STEAM, which is science, technology, engineering, arts and math. That’s really what our focus here is, kind of facilitating self-directed learning in those broad fields.”
Since the space opened in 2014, more than 400 people have been certified to use the 3D printers. This is an hour long process that goes through how to operate the Makerbot printers, things like opening 3D models into the Makerbot software and loading and unloading the plastic filament. Richard and Bart are the two newest users.
Bartosz Jaskolski, an electrical engineering student at Rowan College at Gloucester County, came to the space to be certified so he could build a case for his Raspberry Pi.
“The Raspberry Pi…it’s just like a small computer that costs at max $35,” Jaskolski explained. “I have a project that I want to do. I take a mail box and I want to push a Raspberry Pi all the way in the back, put a solar panel, maybe some sensors on it, and I want to make it detect when the mailbox opens…then it sends out some kind of message to the phone, that it’s been opened. It’s a small project, but it’s something.”
In an IndustyWeek article in 2014, Travis Hessman quotes the CEO of MakerBot, Bre Pettis as saying, “The fact of the matter is, kids can innovate much better than we can. When students get ahold of this [technology], they’re going to solve things that we don’t expect. They’re going to solve the problems that we don’t even know are problems yet. We just have to give them the tools to do it.”
The Makerstudios@GCLS accomplishes this perfectly as O’Connor explained, “It’s great that we have the equipment because…I was always interested in 3D printing and never thought I was going to be able to afford one… But for the library card, I have a $3000 3D printer behind me that I get charged a dollar an hour to use… As an artist and a designer, having this at my fingertips is really powerful. And having the opportunity to be employed to learn this to then teach other people, for me has just been amazing as well.”