Making It Happen: Findings From Processes Implemented to Continue Operating a University Makerspace During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Samuel C. Lieber, Justin T. Suriano, Daniel Brateris

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Manufacturing as a field is built on developing processes and protocols to overcome a myriad of problems. This foundation was put to the test in Manufacturing Education by the disruption brought from the COVID-19 pandemic. This work describes the approach taken to establish processes for the continued use of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Makerspace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NJIT Makerspace is an Advanced Manufacturing facility consisting of additive, subtractive, and metrology equipment. The Makerspace serves multiple areas at NJIT, including the University's Manufacturing Engineering Technology (MNET) program, freshman orientation/design courses, and open use by the student population for varied pursuits. A process was developed to allow continued operation of the NJIT Makerspace under state guidelines and was implemented in the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester. This process included new training measures towards access of the NJIT Makerspace's general tools, polymer additive manufacturing units (3D printers), and laser cutters. In addition, processes were outlined for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed in the NJIT Makerspace, the donning and reapplication of PPE during Makerspace use, cleaning during Makerspace operation, and adhering to the social distance configuration in the Makerspace. The open question was whether these needed processes interfered with student's achieving their personal objectives. This question was researched under three separate conditions. The first condition is in support of the MNET program, where the NJIT Makerspace houses a junior level manufacturing course utilizing manual machining (e.g. milling and turning). The second condition is an introductory freshman course that provides students with an overview of NJIT's resources including the Makerspace. This course provides students with training to access NJIT Makerspace systems, which is reinforced with a NJIT Makerspace project that students currently have an option to pursue virtually or in person. The final condition is the general use of the NJIT Makerspace by students with varied interests. The presented findings from Fall 2020 will not only provide guidance for hands-on Manufacturing Education during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also potential options for safety processes that could be used in other applied academic activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)

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