Boxer Makerspace Will Offer Pacific Community Access to Advanced Tools for Prototyping

It's almost ready.Makerspace

The Boxer Makerspace has been a dream for years, but it becomes real in September, when it officially opens its doors to the Pacific community.  

The new center, on the second floor of the Tim and Cathy Tran Library on the Forest Grove Campus, houses specialized equipment and workspaces for designing almost anything a user can imagine, from an improved hearing aid earpiece to a chocolate drop. Individual students or entire classes can use the Makerspace's 3D printers, precision drills, circuit board makers, antique letter press, vacuum formbox and other equipment to create prototypes from their own designs.

Makerspace and Berglund Center director J. Andy Soria said he's next considering the purchase of a large-format 3D printer; the kind of machine that could print something as large as a prosthetic limb, for example.

Most of the other equipment has been hiding in plain sight at the Berglund Center, theoretically available but largely invisible to most members of the university community. Gathering the elements together and moving them to remodeled digs in the library signals an effort to transcend traditional academic departments and invite members of the university community from any discipline — art, business, occupational therapy and others — to share in the university's resources.

Isaac Gilman, dean of Pacific University Libraries, regards the Makerspace as "an opportunity to create another type of learning space" for students and others. It is intended to appeal to and serve all disciplines, as did the tutoring center when it opened in the Tran Library a year ago. "It seems appropriate to have it here," he said.

As the school year begins, Soria and others are planning final configurations of the equipment and work areas. He is looking ahead to hosting a series of events, such as "Build Your Own Christmas Ornament" or "Print Your Own Greeting Card" sessions led by staff and faculty experts.

Hours haven't been finally set, but Soria expects the Makerspace to be open to use from about 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. He expects it to be staffed during most or all of that time, either by him or by work-study students. Already, the room can be reserved online, though Soria said applicants should follow up with a direct contact to make sure the needed equipment isn't allocated to a class or student project.

The Makerspace opens officially with an open house on Sept. 18.

For Pacific, the Makerspace represents the university's latest effort to equip students with up-to-the-moment technical skills, to encourage innovation, and to recruit and retain students.

The increasing shift to a gig economy requires students to think creatively, adapt to new formats and tools and operate independently, Soria said.

The Boxer Makerspace, he said, will give them "the ability to execute" their creative ideas.

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019