Student experience

New Burnaby campus makerspace promotes entrepreneurship, hands-on learning

January 14, 2020

By Natalie Lim

It’s not every day that students leave the library holding haikus they designed and printed using an old-fashioned letterpress—although that sight may be more common now that SFU’s new Media and Maker Commons (MMC) has officially opened its doors.

The Media and Maker Commons, also known as the Makerspace, is located in the W.A.C. Bennett Library on SFU’s Burnaby campus. All SFU students, staff and faculty can book time in the space, which houses 3D printers and scanners, a laser cutter, a VR studio and more. Everything from phone cases and embroidery to video essays and podcasts can be produced using the MMC’s unique mix of maker tools and media spaces.

Juan Ferrer, who teaches an Introduction to 3D Printing and Laser Scanning Technologies (TEKX 101) at SFU, is thrilled that the technologies he teaches are now available to the broader SFU community.

“The space gives you the chance to get in touch with technology that many people only get to see,” says Ferrer.

The Media and Maker Commons houses five 3D printers that can be booked by SFU students, staff and faculty.

The SFU Library first proposed the MMC as part of their mission to build capacity and prepare students for academic success, while simultaneously upholding the university’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. During the planning process, special thought was put into making the space as friendly and open as possible—users of all skill levels are welcome in the MMC, provided they take an online course about using the tools safely and participate in a training session with library staff. Additionally, the MMC team worked with SFU’s Centre for Accessible Learning to ensure the space is accessible to everyone.

Mikael Kriz, Makerspace librarian, compares working on a makerspace project to writing a research paper—you still have to research, design, plan and execute your project. The difference is that you come out the other end with a product that is useful, tactile and fun.

“Learning by doing affects you in a different way,” he says. “These are skills that will apply to the rest of the learners’ lives.”

Whether you want to create 3D printed fossils for hands-on use in an archaeology class or prototype designs for a new business idea, the Media and Maker Commons offers endless possibilities to build, collaborate and practice out-of-the-box thinking.

“The only boundary that exists is your imagination,” says Kriz. “Come on in!”