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Hacking Our Own Space

In the time since we have launched our MakerSpace at Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, we have learned a lot about storage and space and how to maximize what we have, dealing with the constraints we were given as we started the project.

Our MakerSpace was originally a computer lab with approximately 40 tower type PC's for student use. Over the past 4-5 years the use of this lab by students dwindled significantly to the point where there might be 1-2 students per day using the lab and those who were using the lab, were bringing their own computers and connecting to the wireless service.

This provided us with the space we could use, but we were also told we couldn't move or modify any of the permanent furniture or drill into any of the brick walls that make up a significant part of our space. These constraints have provided us with the opportunities to create items that have allowed us to use the space and add in items to make it more functional for the work we do.

1) Since we couldn't drill into the brick walls or access the ceiling supports, we have found ways to do some minor modifications that if the college decided to return the room to a computer lab, we could change it back quickly with just filling a few screw holes with spackle.

We used shower curtain wires from IKEA to provide a way for us to post instructional materials about different machines in the MakerSpace, quickly and easily. Also, with the amount of movement in the space, it allowed us to move our signage easily when we move machines in the space.

Information Materials hanging from Wires

The other thing we used in the space to post information about machines and safety were magnetic hooks that would attach to the metal "T-Bars" that hold up the acoustical tiles in the ceiling.
Magnetic Hooks holding Informational Materials
2) Since we couldn't modify the furniture, we purchased bar/catering legs for fold up tables to create stand up workstations for Makers. This also allowed us to match the exact width of the table tops (51" wide) We were also able to find cutting mats that were 36" x 48" that fit the table tops we had, as well as our standing workstations. We secured the cutting mats with a 2" binder clip on the corners t keep the mats from slipping. 
Standing workstation for Makers

3) Because our space was previously a computer lab, we had lots of "cubby holes" that were used to contain the tower computer units. We have repurposed these areas as storage in several ways. 
Computer Cubby Holes for Acrylic storage

4) We also needed some shelving and presentation equipment for our vinyl cutters and heat press area, so one of our volunteers helped build this cabinet to hold crafting supplies and a monitor, so we can teach safety and skills classes for our vinyl/paper/cloth cutters. The TV is connected to two computers via a HDMI cable and a small switch. 
Drawers and TV for presentation. 
Cardboard Prototype
5) We also found that our smaller vinyl cutters were taking up too much room on the counter, but they moved a "tacky sheet" to hold the vinyl/cloth in place and needed 12" in front and 12" behind the cutter. One of our student makers thought we could stack the cutters to gain additional counter space. The first picture is the cardboard prototype, which you can see has a 2" cavity for the lower cutter to move the mounting sheet back and forth and not be caught by the material and upper cutter. The second picture is the finished product, that also includes some vinyl storage behind the lower cutter. 


Finished shelving unit for two vinyl cutters. 
We're still looking for more ways to effectively use the space we have to provide the most amount of making / learning opportunities for students, teachers, staff, and community members. We'd like to hear how others have maximized the use of space in their MakerSpace. 

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