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UW Makerspace Catalyst For Creativity And Innovation

Tennessee Watson

A lab devoted to tinkering, playing and experimenting has opened its doors in the Coe Library at the University of Wyoming. There among stacks of books is the Makerspace— with large worktables, an electronics bench and four 3D printers.

Visitors can now build a robot, prototype a prosthetic hand or just play with Legos after a long day. These are just some of the possibilities at what’s more officially known as the Coe Student Innovation Center, which was designed to foster creativity, imagination and innovation on campus, according to Tyler Kerr the Makerspace coordinator.

It’s currently open to UW student, faculty and staff, and to teachers who want to use the space with K-12 students. And Kerr said in the future they hope to open up the space to the Laramie community as well. There are similar community spaces in Powell and Fort Washakie already.

Kerr said by providing low-barrier access to emerging technologies he hopes the space will generate more interest in STEAM -- or the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“Providing the means by which students who might not normally be able to afford a 3D printer or the technology that we have on electronics bench,” said Kerr, “it kind of opens up a world to them that they can explore and play with.”

And Kerr added the Makerspace can be a great tool for teachers who want students to let go of their textbooks and get their hands on the concepts they’re learning.

“For a teacher, it’s one thing to bring your class to a museum, it’s another if you have your own 3D printer available to print off your own little kit.” Kerr said students can create 3D models to help answer questions like: “What’s different between a bird’s anatomy and T-Rex?”


Or to understand the architecture of ancient pyramids or the internal anatomy of a frog, models can be made to a smaller scale and printed using plastic filament, Kerr said.

See the space in action at the official opening this Thursday at 4 p.m. All are welcome for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house.


Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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