Engaging community college students and faculty in makerspaces, and growing the maker and entrepreneurial mindset to develop creative, passionate, curious, and persistent life-long learners and educators, is essential to our long-term survival. The democratization of technology gives anyone with a smart phone access to instant knowledge and resources. Rigid academic systems and quick-changing, resourceful students will be (or already are) at odds with each other. The skills needs of employers are changing so rapidly that a college degree may be outdated even before a student graduates. Our project includes three campuses (Rocklin, Grass Valley and Truckee) and three private makerspace partners (Hacker Lab, Curious Forge, Truckee Roundhouse) in a bold initiative to transform what we teach and how we teach.
Through the StartUp process, we learned to listen to our student leaders and trust their ability to attract diverse groups to the makerspace. For the student-run Game Night on April 27, every tactic ran counter to “standard practice.” Flyers were simple, promotion was primarily word of mouth, and students were encouraged to text the organizer for information. The event was a smashing success, attracting nearly 100 students including women, ethnic and racial groups. Students also visited classrooms, handing out stickers and inviting others to Maker Night on May 4, attracting nearly 100 attendees. This insight and experience, with students who had their finger on the pulse of campus life, led to an overall strategy of student-led engagement and leadership development.
Being part of the makerspace community will better prepare students for internships in STEM/STEAM careers. Project strategies include recruiting employers; obtaining match to extend student work-based opportunities; and recruiting cohorts of 75 students per year to complete New World of Work instruction and badging. The project had budgeted for two internship coordinators, one focused on employer outreach and placement, and one focused student development. Makerspaces will conduct additional certification skills training, if necessary, to satisfy employers requirements. At least 50 trained student interns per year will be placed, mentored and evaluated during and after their internship. Face-to-face interviews with employers will be used to improve the quality of internship placements and gather testimonials and student stories.
Three Community Makerspaces
Three makerspaces (Hacker Lab, Curious Forge and Truckee Roundhouse) collectively comprise 21,000 square feet and more than $375,000 in equipment to serve their respective campuses and communities. The spaces are constantly changing and adapting to meet the interests of students, businesses and community members. Our plan supports this flexibility, while also introducing new equipment needed by students to strengthen their academic learning and experience. New non-credit and badging curriculum will support student and faculty proficiency in equipment use and confidence, and strengthen interdisciplinary and embedded applications of Making into curriculum.
Faculty mentoring and professional development are key components for the integration of Making into curriculum. Project strategies include institutionalization of a Faculty Maker in Residence; the development of a new interdisciplinary advanced manufacturing pathway that includes badges and noncredit courses; participation of a faculty and student team as Stanford University Innovation Fellows; Making Across the Curriculum professional development workshops; integration of New World of Work curriculum and badging into the internship development process; and faculty-driven industry-specific job fairs that connect businesses, students and faculty. Each campus will support and promote makerspace community events such as Boot Camps, Design Challenges and Mini-Maker Faires, that engage students and faculty in new ‘learn by doing’ practices of ideation, prototyping, and iteration.
With a deliberate philosophy of design thinking, leadership, civic responsibility and innovation, our project will create inclusive makerspaces to connect the three campuses to industry and community partners. For example, StartUp Hustle, co-sponsored by the College, is a model for bringing together students, faculty, entrepreneurs and local businesses to generate economic growth in the region. To replicate the model for other programming and build internal capacity of each makerspace, the project will develop student leaders; conduct short-term skill building; develop e-commerce and physical pop-up shops; and expand business partnerships to support internships. The community of practice will give Sierra College students a competitive workforce advantage. We will share what we’ve learned with CCC Maker colleges and the wider community.