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Thursday, 19 February 2015 09:11

MakerSpace at MHC will be a unique way to learn

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It’s being billed as a “community of exciting, creative people who are interested in exploring emerging technologies, learning new hands-on skills and sharing ideas with others in a co-creative environment.”


MakerSpace YXH will be held from Feb. 19-27 at the Vera Bracken Library in the Medicine Hat College.
MakerSpace will have a variety of experts on various topics come in and in their own style and way, talk about a variety of subjects. Some will talk about innovations in technology and then have a question and answer session. Some will be doing a more seminar format. Others will get the discussion going using props they have brought.
There is no hard and fast rule on MakerSpace sessions. The only thing in common is the fact there will be an exchange of ideas, but not in a classroom setting.
The presenters or hosts have about 20 minutes to talk about their topic and then however it unfolds is up to those who attend.
Along with Leigh Cunningham, of the Medicine Hat College’s library, two of the creators of the event, James Kuehn, a 2-D and 3-D digital designer by trade and an instructor at the College and Carly Ridgewell, a library services specialist in technology, are both excited for the possibilities.
 “I was talking to someone and doing a little history research and Medicine Hat was kind of built on exchanging of ideas similar to the MakerSpace concept with such things as IXL (Industries),” explains Kuehn Feb. 17. “We’re trying to capture that kind of (idea-exchange) energy. It’s not anything new  and we’re just trying to recreate it.”
“We can call on all of the different (local) talent,” adds Ridgewell.
There will be 16 interesting topics covered in all including Laser Cutting: Frickin’ Laser Beams; do it yourself geek culture and how libraries can influence it; quadcopters; home automation; 3-D scanning; Biohackers and Do-It-Yourself Biology; and Rodger Sloan will talk about Gamification. According to the MakerSpace website, gamification is the “process seeks to take routine, boring or even rare tasks, and put them into a gaming context that users want to complete.”
(See http://mhc.ab.lib guides.com/makerspaceYXH for more on all the presenters and times).
On Feb. 19, there will be a drop in opportunity all day at the library with a 3-D Software Showdown demonstration at noon with open studios at noon Feb. 21-22. On Feb. 23, the presentations start with head of library services Keith Walker and MHC President Denise Henning in at 9:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. is the quadcopter revolution with Steve Letkemen and at 3:30 p.m. is 3-D scanning basics for the masses with Kuehn. At 6 p.m is the home automation talk with Letkemen. Presentations and discussions will continue everyday until Feb. 27.
While this is a relatively new concept, MakerSpace should be something everyone can get interested in. It’s the opportunity for students professors and the public to gather to talk about advancements in technology trends and how it will effect people in the future using people in southeast Alberta.
The college’s library is heavily involved in MakerSpace because of open space concept. There is a lot of room in certain parts of the library, perhaps under-utilized and with it, furniture can even be moved around to better suit the presenter. There will also be some whiteboards and in some cases, there will be some actual props brought in to the talks.
“”For some we’ll give people tables that are a certain height for some which may be better if they have to stay on their feet (to be able to see something easier) and to still be able to jot notes down,” explains Ridgewell. “Different kinds of furniture create a different atmosphere.”
Plus, if there is a reference or facts to look up, where better to find information than in a library?
Ridgewell says another important aspect of the MakerSpace week is the polling and surveying they are doing (https://www. surveymonkey.com/s/PZJZSD8) about it. They really want to see what works and what doesn’t work as well. She says there have been some incredibly successful MakerSpace events at the Edmonton Public Library as well as some in the United States and Australia.
It’s all part of looking at expanding the uses of the library and having new ways of learning.
“There’s going to be a lot of trial and error so we’ll just see what works,” explains Kuehn.“It’s been great, things fell into place relatively early. Now it’s just a matter of doing it.”
The sessions will be recorded and uploaded to the college’s video channel.
The presenters are excited as well.

Jonathon Morrison
Second-year CADD student Jonathon Morrison has always had an interest in motorcycles and his outgoing personality makes him a perfect person for a MakerSpace session. He will present what is shaping up to be an engaging session Feb. 26 from 5-6 p.m.
The Computer-Aided Drafting and Design student suffered an injury from a motorcycle accident in 2010 and he says he had to change his career path. The parts production and design keeps him going. He is relishing the chance to get involved with the MakerSpace sessions.
“Actually I had no idea MakerSpaces — what it is was or that they existed,” explains Morrison, but understands what they are about now. He likes the soft launch concept of the program where it’s a feeling out process to see what format will work better.
“I’m going to show what I’m interested in and hopefully will spark their interest going from a business model frame of mind, and look at what I’ve learned.
“I’m looking forward to it and (to) help kick start a permanent MakerSpace.”
He wants to talk to anyone about his thoughts on the future of parts production and design and is especially hopeful to talk to some machinists.
Morrison is currently employed and using his mechanics skills to their fullest use. However, having the opportunity to talk about 3-D printing, designing and producing motorcycle parts using computer technology is exciting.
“For me, access to technology and tools is critical; they feed off one another,” explains Morrison, who is from the village of Pense which is located east of Regina. “It’s a blend of hands-on and designing. It’s unique in that respect. I enjoy doing both.”
Morrison moved to Medicine Hat in 2003 and says he heard good things about the college program. His interest in research, design and fabrication led him to want to find out more about computer-aided design and especially 3-D printing and now is utilitizing the AutoDesk CADD program utilized by the college.

Keegan Stepp
Visual Communications student Keegan Stepp will be talking about his cosplay armour and some props created with 3-D printing. By definition, cosplay is “the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction.”
He expects to bring in six to eight pieces for his Makerspace time slated to go Feb. 25 noon-1 p.m.
“I’ll write a speech, hoping it’ll go well, (but I’m) not sure what to expect,” explains Stepp.
The first-year student wants to learn and trade ideas with people from a wide variety of knowledge bases. He wanted to hear more information about MakerSpace. The information was on one of the college’s internal websites.
“I’m new here; I just moved here last August from Estevan,” said Stepp. “I knew about MakerSpaces before. (It’s) a good way to (get) more people who want to learn about my specific interests, (to) talk about it and share ideas.”
Stepp’s skills in cosplay started when he was 15. He made some cheap cardboard armour from the first Halo game. Stepp didn’t try again until 2012 when he spent months building new armour out of paper, fiberglass and foam. This was very time consuming so he researched how others fabricated costume armour. During this process he discovered the huge world of cosplay.
“I started getting better at my suits, making armour out of EVA foam floor mats and since then have made five full suits and three partial ones.I then later took up prop making and 3-D design.”
Stepp had applied for similar programs in Calgary and Regina. Not only did Medicine Hat get back to him first, but he also wanted to go to a smaller campus and heard the program was good.
“When I was younger I had an interest in video games and (drawing). When I was 14 or so, I liked to make things in 2-D. Now there’s so much advancement in 3-D design program and the advancement in 3-D printing is really amazing.”
His interest in comic book characters and video games started at an early age and them developed in his preteen and teenage years.
Stepp made cardboard armour based on the first HALO game, then a little later made some from fiberglass, foam and paper. After looking into how to make armor from EVA floor mats.
With the 3-D printing, there is an opportunity to do a lot of different things in regards to animated characters, related props and development. He says the possibilities are enticing.
“I’d like to create a superhero,” says Stepp and commission props and the like for books, and movies. “With 3-D there’s no waste material ... I can see 3-D printing being used for warranty parts. They’d be cheap enough.”
As for Stepp, he is looking forward to the MakerSpace week and was “really excited to see the laser cutting.”

Tyler Durksen
Tyler Durksen who is from Medicine Hat, is relishing his chance to exchange some ideas with people.
His focus will revolve around the use of the Blender software program. His primary targets will involve animation, game creation and different 3-D modeling of ordinary objects, but he wants to discuss how it can better be used for such practical applications such as architecture.
Durksen is in second year in the visual communications program and believes MakerSpace will be an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas.
“I jumped on it,” explains Durksen who says he has some friends who just bounce creative ideas off each other using Blender. “The amount of stuff you can do with Blender, the 3-D modelling, the video games, the broadness of the program should allow for a lot of (topic discussions).”
Durksen took drafting in high school and lookedat various drafting programs, but now the advent of new technologies including these various advancements in software and 3-D printing has increased his enthusiasm to explore the possibilities.

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Ryan Dahlman

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