University of La Verne’s Inaugural MIRA Conference: Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics

the logo for the MIRA conference

July 12th, La Verne, California—representatives from the Central Coast Makerspace attended the Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics Conference to present on our Makerspace Collaboration.  There were over 100 attendees who took part in 26 presentations over the course of the conference, one of which was our “Making it Work: A Case Study in Multiple Partner Makerspace Collectives.”

a photograph of the MIRA conference ballroom

Our presentation focused on the CCC Maker Initiative, and how our particular needs evolved into the community of practice we know today.  We described some of the trials and tribulations we have had at our respective Makerspaces, as well as the success and celebrations we have seen since the start of the grant.  The presentation concluded with a forecast of year 2, as well as fielding questions from attendees.  Here are two of the best questions/answers:

How does the Makerspace Collective’s mission align with all the constituent stakeholders’ mission statements? The common thread running through the College, Public Library, Discovery Museum and Makerspaces in general is the idea of lifelong learning.  Together we see our collective as a pipeline from the Discovery Museum to the Public Library to the College, allowing the community a safe space to learn new skills in the art of making.

As long as the budgeting and spending adheres to our outline to the grant, and we report all expenditures to the fiscal agent, everything works fine.  We had to submit our proposed budgets to the CCC Maker Initiative, so there is a baseline as to what our spending is going to look like.  Our Grant Coordinator has been instrumental in insuring that all our spending has been reported and accounted for.

a photograph of one of the presentations at MIRA

The rest of the conference was informative.  The keynote address, “the Imminent Shift: How the Maker Movement is Transforming Learning, Students, and Society,” by Heather Lister gave an excellent encapsulation of the maker movement:

Human growth is fueled by innovation and there are a growing number of claims that innovation is on the decline. What does this mean for educators? As makerspaces and the maker movement continue to gain traction in learning/academics across America and educators continue to see the positive implications of this model of learning, might we be able to change the trajectory of American innovation? Citing Robert Gordon’s projection of economic growth, if positioned properly, school makerspaces have the capability of addressing the various “headwinds” that have contributed to the innovation decline (Lister, 2018).

Ms. Lister’s presentation notes and references can be found at this URL–bit.ly/MIRASHIFT.  The conference had multiple sessions occurring concurrently, and there was occasionally some confusion about presenter order and location, but overall the conference was enlightening.

a picture of the keynote address at the mira conference



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