Entrepreneurship, Design & Makerspaces

“Student entrepreneurs and designers, like Vico Hernandez (pictured above) make their ideas into reality at OCC’s Makerspace”


Orange Coast College (OCC) has further invested in our students and community by helping enable entrepreneurs and designers to realize their ideas in a makerspace on campus. In the past two years, professors in multiple departments, especially business and our design & technology disciplines, have begun working harder to create a culture of collaboration to enable all students to use resources across campus and within our region to define, design, and prototype innovative products and services.

CCC Maker Initiative

This past year, Steve Fuchs, Professor of Architecture & Design, and Lisa Knuppel, Director of Career Education/Grant Development, engaged with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Workforce Development Division to secure $1 million in funding for the creation and implementation of a plan for a campus-wide makerspace over the next two years—what is being called the CCC Maker Initiative. Our existing 2,000 square foot makerspace was born out of the Architecture Department and housed within our Technology Division, currently administered by Daniel Shrader, Dean of Technology. Initiated by Dr. Dean Abernathy, Professor of Architecture and our Honors Program Coordinator, and further developed by Professor Fuchs, our current makerspace’s capabilities are expanding to serve the entire campus and our local community. The proposed new and larger California Community College makerspace will be “creating and sharing a model to fuel job creation and strengthen regional economies” and facilitate over 100 grant-funded internships, according to the CCC Maker website (cccmaker.com). The CCC Maker Initiative’s Technical Assistance Providers, Salomon Davila and Deborah Bird, continue to assist Orange Coast College’s maker culture development efforts in four areas: cultivating a community-of-practice, implementing an expanded makerspace, developing additional curriculum, and facilitating work-based learning opportunities and internships. Along with CCC Maker Initiative support, our initial makerspace advisory board identified three regional areas of expertise to focus on, which include: entrepreneurship, action sports, and autonomous systems.


Maker culture grows out of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement and offers pathways for traditional and nontraditional students to develop their talents in collaborative ways. Our “Pirate Plank” program, a Shark Tank styled entrepreneurship competition lead by Mark Grooms, Professor of Business, cultivates business-minded students by supporting them with academic and professional feedback to help them develop a business plan and prototypes of their ideas. With access to our growing “maker ecosystem” and new technologies, like 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC routing, robotics, and design-based equipment like sewing machines, woodshop tools, and electronics, entrepreneurs at OCC who use our makerspace have a single place to go on campus to tinker and prototype their ideas—right alongside students, professors, and professionals that have expertise to share.

Action Sports

In the spirit of sharing regional expertise, the City of Costa Mesa and our surrounding cities are known as a hotbed of innovation and world leader in the design and manufacturing of action sports equipment and lifestyle. From local makers to large employers, Orange Coast College is actively engaging with our creative economy. Lead by Tim Peters, Professor of Fine Woodworking, and Professor Fuchs, we are currently developing curriculum and facilities to enable programs to teach the fundamentals of designing, engineering, and making performance objects, such as skateboards, skimboards, handplanes, surfboards, standup paddleboards, and small boats. OCC is also exploring the development of non-credit workshops, a skill-based badging system, additional for-credit certificates, and a 2-year multidisciplinary degree in Applied Design (with a possible 4-year option).

Autonomous Systems

Along with the design and engineering of performance objects, Orange Coast College was recently funded to be a regional lead in the design and development of autonomous systems to control drones and robots in the air, land, sea, and space. Lead by Dr. Stanley Harriman, Professor of Aviation Science, and Rodney Foster, Professor of Aviation Maintenance, we have partnered with Base 11, a non-profit STEM-based local workforce and entrepreneurship development company, and Dassault Systems, an industry leader in advanced 3D design and product lifecycle management, to aid in revitalizing our region’s tech and aerospace sectors. By integrating applied design and engineering into our current Technology Division and campus offerings, OCC hopes to expand our regional support of students and employers in these specific regional industries and within our already vibrant, creative and entrepreneurial economy.

How to Engage

Interested in becoming part of our CCC Maker Initiative as a student, entrepreneur, community maker, or industry professional? Sign up for Introduction to Design Fabrication (ARCH 170) or Design Fabrication 1 (ARCH 171), help us place design & maker students into internships, contact Professor Steve Fuchs at sfuchs(at)occ.cccd.edu for any reason, and visit our Instagram account @occmakerspace.

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