Creative 'Makerspace' Now Open to All on Downtown Campus

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 30, 2019) – Tucked away in the basement of Draper Hall, there’s a room full of 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and a variety of other tools and hardware, ready to help students create, invent and learn.

UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) hosted more than 100 students earlier this month for an open house of its “makerspace,” which is now available to the entire campus community.

Students at the open house were met with free pizza, hands-on training with equipment, and a number of creations already made in the space through CEHC Professor of Practice Michael Leczinsky’s INF 496 course.

Projects on-display included a mini robotic-driving car, a Roomba-like robot vacuum and drones assembled from scratch.

“There’s a lot of excitement right now around things like 3D printers, robotics and drones. These are technologies that we want to expose our students to, both in CEHC and the rest of the University,” said Leczinsky. “Our goal with the makerspace is to make it as accessible as possible. There is no sign-up required. Just drop in, design, prototype and have fun.”

Inspiring Innovation

Leczinsky, who teaches several courses on emerging technology trends, brought his vision for the makerspace to life last fall. He has since recruited and trained seven student interns. The space is open Monday to Friday, from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. At least one intern is always available during office hours to teach students how to operate the equipment.

UAlbany students Ian Jaffe and Kristen Kespert display their projects inside the CEHC Makerspace.
Informatics students Ian Jaffe (left) and Kristen Kespert display their projects inside the CEHC Makerspace. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

Among Leczinsky’s interns is Ian Jaffe, a senior informatics major who plans to pursue a career in 3D printing after graduating next month. At the open house, he displayed a plastic mounting plate for drones that can be used to attach a camera or other equipment.

He also designed a battery pack holder that can be connected to drone obstacles - in just 20 minutes.

“3D printing is a growing industry and something I’ve become really excited about through our makerspace,” Jaffe said.

Kristen Kespert, a junior informatics major, displayed a prototype for an Arduino clock and temperature reader that is powered by USB connection. She is going to intern in the lab with Leczinsky next semester.

“This space is very collaborative. You can spend hours down here, working with other students to problem solve and learn how to use the equipment,” Kespert said. “3D printers are expensive and something I’d never had access to before. It’s a valuable opportunity for us.”

The Drone Connection

CEHC hosted another open house earlier this semester, for a 1,700-square-foot drone lab in the basement of Page Hall. The space, enclosed with netting and with black rubber flooring, offers a controlled, indoor environment for flight training, along with land-based robotics research and educational opportunities.

According to Leczinsky, the makerspace and lab will integrate together, allowing students to design their own drones, prototype them using 3D printers, and fly them within the facility. “The two spaces are interconnected,” he said. “We want our college to become a national model for emerging technology education and experiential learning.”

You can learn more about availability in both spaces by contacting Leczinsky via email: [email protected]

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