If you walk past the Lederle Graduate Research Center and past Stockbridge Hall, you may stumble into the Agricultural Engineering Building. It’s one of those old brick buildings you’ll probably never set foot into unless you have a class there. But, inside its maze-like hallways, lies a new space open for everyone looking to learn a new skill such as designing for 3D printing, wood burning, and cosplay making: The All-Campus Makerspace (ACMS).
On Saturday, Nov. 9, I spent almost 5 hours watching people learn all about model airplanes, and then patiently attempt to build one. Those people were part of a mini-model airplane workshop held at the ACMS. The staff, ever-so-patient, helped the attendees make and remake their airplanes, offering advice on how to cut the foam and which model to choose, and even tried to teach me how to design a Lego head (emphasis on tried).
Currently in a pop-up space temporarily located in rooms 114 and 120 of the Agricultural Engineering North building, the ACMS is a workshop space on the University of Massachusetts campus specifically designed to help students of all majors work on any project. The All-Campus (Pop-Up) Makerspace is the first phase of the UMass Amherst Makerspace & Maker Network project, an ongoing effort to “connect students, faculty, and staff with resources for making all over campus,” according to their website. Some other spaces in the Maker Network include the Student Union Craft Center, the Digital Media Lab in the W.E.B Du Bois library, and the Berthiaume Classroom and Incubator Space.
The ACMS follows the model of other makerspaces on campus—such as M5, located in the lower level of Marcus Hall—in offering a workspace for students to work on various projects. However, the ACMS differs from other spaces on campus in that they’re open to every major.
“M5 is basically reserved for electrical and computer engineering majors, and I thought that was great, because I love electronics and kind of love engineering as well, but for me being a math major, I wouldn’t have access to the makerspace,” explained Jack Champagne, a freshman math major (although he’s soon changing to computer science), and staff member at ACMS.
“So, I came in here, I learned a little bit about the space, and I realized, oh this space is for all the majors that come here. You can be an arts major, you can be math (like me), you can be computer science, or even engineering,” he added.
Aside from being a working space for all students, the ACMS is also a place to learn. Whether it’s designing something for 3D printing or learning how to build a table, the ACMS staff has the expertise to teach and train students in whatever crafty skill they need.
“I didn’t know how to build a table. I came to ACMS, and I was taught how to use a bunch of different power tools. I learned how to use a chop saw, a cable saw, and now I have a pretty proficient understanding of woodworking,” said Phillip Van, a junior mechanical engineer major and ACMS staff member.
“We’re really just a space just to help people make projects that they need or want to make, whether it’s personal or academic,” Van said.
Note: The new location of the ACMS until Summer 2020 is the Astronomy Research Facility at 115 Natural Resources Road, near Elab and Gunness Laboratory.