I remember quite clearly a few years ago attending a Raspberry Pi showcase at the Arkansas Innovation Hub in North Little Rock.
It was there that I listened to former Hub Master Maker Joel Gordon passionately tell me about the Maker movement. The result of this renewal for makers is the Maker Faire.
The Maker Faire is a massive showcase of makers from woodworking and metalsmiths to all things technology. There are several across the country, including Mini Maker Faires.
Makerspaces have also popped across the country, including the Hub in North Little Rock.
With the partnership between UCA and Conductor, Conway is fortunate to have its own maker space. This isn’t something every community has, and we are blessed to have one in Conway.
Recently I chatted with UCA Makerspace Master Maker Jason Hustelton. Huselton agreed to answer a few questions for us at Conway Scene.
What is a Master Maker, and how did you become one?
The Master Maker role is a very unique position where you oversee the daily operation, programming, prototyping, designing, and making using various tools and materials within the Makerspace. The space requires expertise in technology and design/art.
My background is a great blend of these, as I have a bachelor’s degree in Art/sculpture, and worked in the IT field for 20 years. This helps to be able to learn software quickly, problem solve, and design prototypes for people.
One of the things that help with prototyping is having experience in various fields like metal fabrication, welding, woodworking, vacuum forming, graphic design, scratch building, electronics, graphic printing, laser engraving, photo manipulation, drawing/sketching, etc. A wide range of skills helps you find the best solution for what you are trying to accomplish. I’m always looking to further my knowledge and recently have done some sewing and wood turning.
Can you explain what the UCA Makerspace is and what it is used for?
The UCA Makerspace is a public space, managed by Conductor, where people can come in, use our equipment, and create unique items/products. We encourage creativity and innovation in the space. We are located in UCA’s Donaghey Hall, and we are open Monday-Friday 8:30a-5:30p. It is a free space where you can create custom gifts and items, or you can prototype your next idea. We also have classes and programming for youth and adult makers.
What kinds of classes does the UCA Makerspace have to take?
We suggest that you take our training class to help familiarize yourself with the space, how it works, how to make files, using 3D printers, laser, and CNC. We also offer specialized classes that focus on different aspects of making. We have programming tailored towards adults and youth makers. Our adult programming spans from wood turning to Arduino and Raspberry Pi to cutting board, 3D modeling classes, and more.
We also have a variety of offerings specifically tailored to children and young adults. We have Youth Maker Monday classes twice a month in the Makerspace after school, in addition to offering outbound youth programming to local clubs, after school programs, and other organizations.
Our educators also design community events that take place on Saturdays at the University of Central Arkansas and include interactive STEAM activities for the entire family. Additionally, we host groups and field trips in our Makerspace throughout the year.
We currently offer one summer camp called Brand Camp, which introduces young adults to the marketing and communication field, and we plan to expand with more STEAM-based camps beginning in Summer 2020.
What kinds of machines do you have in the UCA Makerspace?
Our Makerspace features two sizes of 3D printers to print parts, figures, or any 3D object using layers of filament and a 3D file. We also have a laser engraving machine that can engrave on wood, some metals, plastics, leather, etc. to make any design.
We also have a CNC machine for cutting larger pieces of wood for larger projects. All of this equipment is free to the public; we only ask that the machines are scheduled ahead of time via our website. There is additional maker equipment throughout the space, such as table saws, computers, soldering equipment, etc. that do not require a reservation, makers can just come in, look around, and utilize the resources!
Do you have someone who teaches visitors how to use these machines?
We are fully staffed, and someone is always here to help visitors with their projects and questions. We also offer three training classes a month, called Maker Trainings, to teach people how to use the machines. However, if anyone is interested in learning more about the space, our programming, or how they can utilize the space, I always encourage them to stop by and check it out! We’re happy to help answer questions and work on projects.
How can I get my son or daughter involved in making things at the UCA Makerspace?
You can sign up online at www.arconductor.org for any of our classes or times on the machines. I also encourage you to follow us on social media to be the first to know about our upcoming events, classes, and programs. I would also encourage you to check out the space yourself – there is plenty of programming for adult makers as well!
Wrapping it up
The UCA Makerspace launched in September 2017 and has been training users ever since.
Thank you, Jason, for telling us more about a makerspace and what a Master Maker does. If you are interested in learning more about how you can utilize the UCA Makerspace, check out the Conductor website or get in touch with Jason Huselton.