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8/11/15 - 'The Factory' maker space established on campus

Recognizing the national trend toward creativity and invention, Mississippi State University has created a space that allows students, faculty and staff to turn ideas into reality.

Called “The Factory,” this designated maker space was created as a collaboration between the Bagley College of Engineering and the Entrepreneurship Center.

More than 50 colleges nationwide already participate in the maker movement but Bryan Patton, student organizer of The Factory, predicts that this type of environment will become standard at major institutions over the next 10 years.

“We are getting involved in the movement early,” Patton, a mechanical engineering graduate student, said. “A lot of other schools are just dabbling in it but we want to do it all at once, not over a 3- or 5-year span. With enough interest and support we could easily have the best in-state prototyping and design resources by the end of the fall semester.”

Many of the resources needed to establish a maker space already existed on Mississippi State’s campus, but The Factory has brought those workspaces together as creative network for students, faculty and staff who join The Factory.

Patterson Engineering Lab serves as the main hub of activity, providing members access to ready-to-use tools, software and materials. It also includes rooms for brainstorming, a 3-D printing lab and a welding shop. Moore Hall houses the clothing laboratory, where students can construct, fit and analyze clothing with 20 professional sewing and serger machines.

Patton said The Factory is continuing to look for opportunities to grow.

“We are working with the art department to include their wood shop,” Patton said. “One day in the distant future I’d love to shoot for a chemistry lab. If anyone has a resource that they would want students to use, we would love to work something out to allow students to use their work space.”

Although The Factory was advertised only by word of mouth during its establishment in the spring semester of 2015, the student organization has 10 student leaders trained to aid its 50 members with projects, tools and safety. Students of from all disciplines are encouraged to join, although, as an engineer Patton recognizes the direct benefit that the space will have for those in the Bagley College.

“There is no reason to wait to do what I think most engineers want to do, which is to make or design things,” Patton said. “Students can work on their own things without having to wait to take a class in design. They can come in here their first day and start using the tools that they will use as professional engineers.”

The Factory will be open by appointment during the summer and from 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the fall. The membership fee is $40 per semester and includes mandatory orientation and workspace access. The first information sessions will be held in Patterson Laboratory at 5 p.m. on August 20 and 24.

To learn more about The Factory, visit www.ecenter.msstate.edu/maker.

Amanda Meeler | Bagley College of Engineering

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