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Haverford Spring/Summer 2014 : Page 22

(from left) Megan Holt ’14, Alexandre Leibler ’15, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Joshua Schrier check out the equipment in the Maker Space. Maker Space Makes its Debut T hey’re called hacker spaces, maker spaces, and fab labs, and they’ve been cropping up at colleges and universities all over the country, and launching as cooperative ventures in urban communities. Part machine shop, part studio, part lab, these spaces allow people with diverse interests to come together to collaborate and use the latest technology to design and make cool stuff. Now Haverford has its own place to create. Housed in a former physics lab in the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC), the HaverFab Maker Space for the Arts and Sciences opened during the fall semester. The space is outfitted with a 3-D printer, which uses an extruding process and plastic filament to create three-dimensional objects; a 3-D scanner, which allows objects to be scanned to a data file and then repli-cated on the 3-D printer; and a ShopBot, an automated carving device able to shape wood, plastic or aluminum. The Maker Space, which was funded in part by a Teaching With Technology grant from the Office of the Provost, came together through a collaboration that included professors Joshua Schrier (chemistry), Sorelle Friedler (computer science), and Suzanne Amador Kane (physics). Student coordinator Alexandre Leibler ’15 researched the equipment needed and helped get it all set up. “I’ve been interested in the technology for a while now,” says Leibler, a math and computer science major who heard about the plans for the Maker Space and asked Schrier and Kane if he could get involved. “They gave me a lot of freedom and responsibility to determine what was needed for the space,” says Leibler. “The thought was, this is a prototype, and we could test what works and what doesn’t. We didn’t have a set idea about who would use the space. We said, let’s get it set up and see what its role becomes.” One group that has embraced the Maker Space is the Robotics Club, whose members Leibler helped train on the equipment. “The 3-D printer allows us to make frames, chassis, wheels, gears—anything our brains can imagine,” says club member Casey Falk. “By making these tiny bits easily and effi-ciently, we can focus on the larger issues of design, implemen-tation, and logic that go into robotics.” (By the end of the school year, club members had built a motorized robot equipped with a video camera that they hope to field-test in the fall.) Leibler also assisted physics major and educational studies minor Megan Holt ’14 on senior thesis research she did with Kane on devising 3-D realizations of graphics used in physics and mathematics courses. Holt’s thesis, “Maximizing Acces-sibility for the Blind in Physics Education,” looked at how these “tactile graphics” could aid blind and low-vision students. (Physics and mathematics student Daniel Gillen ’16, who is blind, tested the objects created to assess their usability.) The Maker Space technology has also been put to use by KINSC instrument specialists George Neusch (biology) and Daniel Fabry (chemistry) to create replacements for worn out 22 HaverfordMagazine MAKER SPACE PHOTOS: BRAD LARRISON; CASTRESANA PHOTO: THOM CARROLL PHOTOGRAPHY

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