The UC Santa Barbara Library unveiled its new Makerspace at the start of winter quarter, offering free access to technologies including 3D printers, laser cutters and vinyl makers. 

The Makerspace is funded by a $50,000 grant from the UCSB Student Fee Advisory Committee. Courtesy of UCSB Library

Located on the library’s 1st Floor Ocean Side in room 1575, the Makerspace is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for all UCSB students, faculty and staff to work on personal projects alongside Makerspace student assistants. The space’s maximum capacity is 46. 

The Makerspace is funded by a $50,000 grant from the UCSB Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC), filed jointly by the library and the Letters & Science Information Technology (I.T.) department. Additionally, the I.T. department provided technical support for purchasing and managing softwares like Adobe Creative Cloud.

The space plans to open on Saturdays and expand its hours to 6 p.m. in the future. Makerspace equipment includes eight 3D printers, a 3Doodler flow pen, laser cutter, Janome sewing and embroidery machine, pattern projector, Cricut vinyl maker, vacuum former, bottom maker, various electronics and hand tools. 

Equipment is available for check out for up to four hours each day through LibCal, the same platform used to book library study rooms. The computers inside Makerspace are also equipped with softwares essential to creators, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk Fusion 360, Janome, Cricut and more.

Equipment is available for check out for up to four hours each day through LibCal, the same platform used to book library study rooms. Courtesy of UCSB Library

The idea for the Makerspace originated three years ago, according to Makerspace Assistant and UCSB alum B Arriaga, out of a need to make lab spaces more accessible. Arriaga spoke to difficulties getting the project off the ground during the planning stages. 

“There’s been a lot of talking and planning and not actually doing things until the last six months before we opened,” Arriaga said. “There’s a lot of preparation for thinking about why we deserve extra student funding, even though we’re inside of the library that has its own internal funding … so it’s really great that [the university] saw the value of this project being completely free for students.”

Makerspace Manager Maddie Wishart said University Librarian Kristin Antelman initially proposed the space three years ago. From there, the team became made up of Associate University Librarian for Learning & Engagement Rebecca Metzger, Arriaga and other individuals affiliated with the UCSB Library. The group then divided tasks of touring makerspaces at different campuses, constructing service model policies and ensuring equitable access of equipment.

Wishart spoke of the newly created space as a “community resource for the UCSB community.” 

“A lot of students don’t have access to 3D printers or the money to buy one for their own personal use,” she said. “So [the Makerspace is] really just giving people the ability to come in, try it, learn from it.”

Wishart emphasized accessibility being an integral part of student learning and community building. 

“I really just think that making is for everybody,” Wishart said. “It’s integrated into, let’s say, the art department. But we don’t necessarily see that as a guarantee and other things like global studies or history or things like that. And I think that having students have access to making and the things that come along with that of problem solving, resilience when things don’t work out, being able to communicate … can be transferred to other aspects of their lives.”

Arriaga said they experienced personal struggles with accessibility of art department facilities in college which drew them to orchestrating this project. 

“I was an art minor … and I think just having the space for students to come in and have free work and space to do that instead of having to be tied to rules and costs and academic projects, there’s a really big mental health benefit,” they said. “I’ve seen students … who’ve never done 3D printing before have already 3D printed stuff, so that’s gonna be really impactful.” 

For more information, students and staff can access the official Makerspace Canvas page, which includes waivers, safety guidelines and instructions for using equipment. Besides resources on Canvas, the student assistants also provide training through hosting workshops, which are posted on Shoreline and the Makerspace website

A version of this article appeared on p.3 of the Jan. 25, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.