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Summer in the MakerSpace

I have the privilege of being the Student Manager in the MakerSpace this summer and during my senior year.  I am fortunate enough to work with some amazingly innovative students, staff, and faculty to create most anything imaginable!

Most everyone I talked to last spring told me that summer in Burlington is slower paced than the rest of the academic year– I found the opposite to be true on our campus.  While the academic year is busy with academic and personal work in the MakerSpace, the summer months are a perfect time for us to tackle some unique and more intensive projects.

From the first day of summer, we hit the ground running, preparing for one of the Accelerated Summer College (ASC) Courses, Topics in Education, taught by Professor MaryBeth Doyle. Professor Doyle has been hosting classes in the MakerSpace since the fall of 2015, and has been innovating non-traditional learning through hands-on, problem solving assignments.  To say the very least, Professor Doyle kept her students busy with hands-on trainings to get ready for their final project.  In order to help meet learning outcomes outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards, her students were tasked with integrating pre-programmed technology with analog technology.  The students presented their work at the ASC Academic Symposium at the end of the program.  Professor Doyle was impressed with the dedication and hard work exemplified by her students, and said this of her course:

The MakerSpace provides opportunities for students to work with materials that they have little or no prior experience with. … My course, Topics in Education, was structured around weekly objectives that each student had to meet, but they had many avenues to meet them. So often education is focused on achieving a right answer, but this class encouraged students to take risks to fail and to fail often.  I was much more interested in their abilities to engage curiosity, problem-solving, and risk taking… and they certainly did all three!”

ASC students Pete Nasca (left) and Emma Rippe (right) working to build and program Lego robots for their final presentation.

Once ASC was over, we were far from having a moment to breathe.  The MakerSpace prepared for three weeks of renovation and to welcome four new Makerbot Replicator + 3D printers, a Silhouette multimaterial cutter, and several donations from the SMC community. Concurrently, a team of SMC staff, faculty, and outside community members avidly worked over a period of five weeks to hack a Power Wheels car for a five-year-old St. Albans girl with Muscular Dystrophy.  Following a similar work flow to GoBabyGo out of the University of Delaware, this team rewired the vehicle and added accessibility features to make independent exploration more available to the little girl. This car will be a part of her elementary community as she enters Kindergarten this fall, and the team looks forward to the possibility of taking on another project for another young child.

Modified Power Wheels Car 

Along with the many projects we tackled this summer, the MakerSpace also hosted a variety of workshops and trainings throughout the summer and warmly welcomed some new faces into the space, including a group of 20 Japanese technical students.  Between making new signage for the math department, running sign-making workshops, and helping along with personal project endeavors, we were nothing short of busy in the best way.  With summer ending soon, we have been diligently working to plan for the six classes that will be hosted in the MakerSpace during the fall semester, as well as planning new workshops and trainings for students, staff, and faculty.  We are excited to welcome professors from the Art Department, Biology Department, Mathematics Department, Education Department, Applied Linguistics Department, and members from the Academic Enrichment Commons for a plethora of new opportunities for students. We look forward to seeing many more faces in the fall, and we thank everyone for an exciting and productive summer!

Nicole Kordana, Student Manager

A Knack for Building – by Charles Pikor, MakerSpace Student Lead

I have always had a knack for building things with my hands. The pile of scrap wood behind my house is testament to my interest, resembling a graveyard of old and forgotten projects. I relish the instant gratification of turning an idea into a finished product.

My time working at the MakerSpace, and having the opportunity to use state-of-the-art equipment and mapping softwares, has only fueled my curiosity and creativity. The machine I spend most of my time with is the Epilog laser cutter. This futuristic cutting system has the ability to cut and mark paper, wood, and certain metals within minutes.

Last semesterpikor2 Ipikor1 was in need of a case for my sunglasses. It wasn’t long before I began sketching a number of odd and unusual concepts that blended practicality, quality and style. Of the few prototypes I produced with the laser cutter, some did not make it to the manufacturing stage after failing basic durability tests. These losses, in turn, motivated me to go back and redesign a real and functional case.

The opportunity to utilize the MakerSpace not only as an intern, but as a maker and part of a creative community, has proven to be a valuable learning experience for me. Even after my time in the space ends, I will continue to apply the skills I have learned in a real world setting, and put my new knowledge towards daily challenges in whatever I do.


What have I learned?  Here is a list of the skills and trades I have acquired during my time at the MakerSpace:

– vinyl cutter certified and technician

– laser cutter certified and technician

– proficiency in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator

– a working knowledge of Rhino and Roland Cut Studios

– basic knowledge in maintenance for 3D printers


September in the MakerSpace

The MakerSpace is open for business with new hours this semester, from 1:00-8:00 pm Monday-Thursday and from 1:00-5:00 p.m. on Friday.  We’ve started offering certification classes on the vinyl cutter, with more tools to follow as we get farther into the semester, and have been excited by the number of you that have come in to see what’s available, work on your own projects, and talk with our Maker staff!

You don’t have to break the bank to do an awesome project–use found materials instead!  Check your recycling bin to see if there’s any good cardboard you can cut and glue into a mask or a deer head for your wall (yes, it’s been done!).  Repurpose an old lamp with a new shade made out of your favorite (but no longer wearable) shirt or dress.  Make yourself a quilt out of old t-shirts on our sewing machines.  Talk to our staff to see if you can 3d print a lost part from your Lego set!  Or let Nature be your supplier, as Prof. McCabe did when he found the perfect piece of driftwood and brought it in to be etched on our lasercutter.

Lasercut bear skull on found piece of driftwood, by Declan McCabe
Lasercut bear skull on found piece of driftwood, by Declan McCabe

Happy making!

Summer at the MakerSpace– Hi, I’m Kelsey

Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Buchanan and I am going to be a Junior this coming Fall Semester at Saint Michael’s College. At SMC I have a double major in Art and Education with a double minor in Religious Studies and Art History. I most recently started working in the MakerSpace this summer.

I may have only been at the MakerSpace for 2 & 1/2 short months, but I’ve certainly accomplished a lot! Within in that time period I have learned (and nearly mastered) all the equipment within the MakerSpace: laser cutter, vinyl cutter, 3D printers, and the sewing machine. Here are a few pictures of the projects I’ve done so far!

The very first thing I ever 3D printed was this little guy. He’s meant to hold up paintbrushes.

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These “House Tags” were made from wood that I laser cut. I wanted to make a “welcome back to college” gift for my friends. So I created a few designs on the computer to make these signs.

File_001 (1)

With the help of the vinyl cutter, I spruced up my IPad case. It needed a little color and the vinyl cutter added the exact image and size I wanted.

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Have you seen Game of Thrones? If yes, then you’ll know this dress was one of many Daenerys wears. I picked up the pattern and some fabric and went to work! The belt and the shoulder pad were made from fabric that was laser cut.

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Most recently, I have been working on building the group Enabling the Future (new club coming in the fall!). This group will be 3D printing prosthetic hands for children. To get this group ready to begin in the fall I’ve prototyped two hands called Ody and Raptor Reload. Additionally, I have been researching 3D printing and prosthetic technology. I’ve learned so much this summer and am excited to share my findings with the new club! Also, I wrote a grant for a start-up budget and am waiting to hear back from a company I sent that grant out too (fingers crossed!). I am beyond excited to bring Enabling the Future to SMC and bring prosthetics to children who otherwise would go without. Its been a hectic and crazy experience, but above all a rewarding one.

File_002 (1)File_005 (1)

With a 1 & 1/2 left until the Fall Semester I have a long list of other creations that I hope to get done! Feel free to stop by anytime and say hello. Would love to chat about my projects or the one’s on your mind.

Until Next Time, Peace Out Girl Scout.


Help us help you!

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At the MakerSpace we want to improve to better fit the needs of our St. Michael’s Community!

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New Club Announced!

Our New Club (Coming Fall 2016)

The MakerSpace is looking to get involved with our community. With the help of the organization “Enabling The Future” we will be 3D printing prosthetic hands for children. Click the following link for more information: Enabling The Future

Grad Ed class creates a customized Power Wheels

IMG_2833 Some talented Grad Ed students in Mary Beth Doyle’s course have been working in the MakerSpace over the past few weeks to modify the Space’s third, and most sophisticated PowerWheels vehicle.  From modifying the electrical system, to building special handlebars and a padded seat, this snazzy little car has had a lot of attention lavished on it!      Come on over and take a look at our cars whenever the MakerSpace is open.


Design It Yourself Speaker Workshop – Sign up in the MakerSpace!


April 12 and 14th, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.


The MakerSpace will be hosting its first DIY speaker-making workshop next Tuesday the 12th and Thursday the 14th.  Students will get certified on the Laser Cutter and learn to design and put together their own unique speakers.

10 spots are available for this workshop; the first seven students to sign up will get free speakers . The remaining 3 spots are available to those who already have a set of speakers or are willing to purchase their own.

Registered students who have not yet been trained on the laser cutter should arrive at 6pm on Tuesday, April 12.  Students who have already been certified on the machine are not required to attend this part of the training, but are welcome to come early for a laser cutter refresher.

On Thursday the 14th, we will begin to dissemble the speakers and plan the initial designs on paper. Once the initial designs are finished, students can start laying their designs out in Adobe Illustrator. The MakerSpace has only four computers with Adobe Illustrator, but students are welcome to reserve an hour of time to use the computers during MakerSpace hours and receive assistance from student workers.

During the week of April18th and for the remainder of the semester, students are welcome to come into the MakerSpace and work on their speakers when academic work is not scheduled. Once they have finished their designs, students will do a test run on cardstock to assure everything is how they want it. Once the student is happy with their design, they will  laser cut their designs onto sheets of hardwood and then assemble their speakers.

Each student enrolled in the workshop will need to purchase their own hardwood sheets for the speakers. The school store sells 12×24 inch sheets of wood and the price range is roughly $20.00-$28.00 per sheet depending on which type of wood you would prefer. The MakerSpace will provide the necessary nuts, bolts, and glues to put the speakers together, but if students want special materials (such as metal brackets) they will need to purchase them at a hardware store (Lowe’s is close by!)

Please note that this project will cost each student a minimum of $20 for materials and 5-10 hours or more of your time.

The sign up sheet will be posted outside of the MakerSpace Thursday April 7th at 10AM​​​.

If you have any questions, please email MakerSpace student lead Justin Fillion at

Select St. Mike’s Admissions Event: March 6, 2016 Project: Working with Cardboard

Maskmaking 1 Maskmaking SarahKellywith pinbox
maskmaker painted mask Bigmask

The second project available to our students was working in cardboard, using pre-cut cardboard templates and acrylic paint for masks, with another option to put together a PinBox 300.  Special thanks on this project to Eric Roy (SMC MakerSpace) and Pete the Cardboard King, of the Burlington Generator, who provided us with both supplies and expertise to make this a fun experience!

Select St. Mike’s Admissions Event, March 5, 2016 – Project: Adapt a Power Wheels for a Special Needs Child


MBD and car Kids and car Girl drilling PVC
Drilling PVC Building car Open house attendees

With the aid of PVC pipe, some hand tools, and a lot of creativity, students worked together with Mary Beth Doyle (Education) and our Maker staff to begin modifications of this cool John Deere Power Wheels car.  Special thanks to Dave Lake (’16) and Becca Stouges (’19) for their assistance with this project!