A new state grant seeks to start up makerspaces across the state and a University of Wyoming program is spearheading the effort.
Makerspaces are places where anyone can gain access to creative technology that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford or use; the spaces are, however, geared towards students. The technology can include everything from sewing machines to 3D printers to advanced woodshop tools.
The University of Wyoming's Innovation Wyrkshop has run a large makerspace on campus for a few years now. Now, a $175,000 grant from the state's Department of Workforce Services will help them launch five new mini-makerspaces in communities across Wyoming with a special focus on providing opportunities for young adults with disabilities.
Tyler Kerr, Innovation Wyrkshop Makerspace Coordinator, said the new spaces will serve as crucial skill-building centers for a changing world.
"The tech here is not going away," he said. "It's only becoming more common across industries. These sorts of tools are useful across the board, so we've got to equip as many people as possible with these tools."
The grant will be divided between purchasing equipment and providing stipends for teachers and for students gaining employable skills in the makerspaces.
Kerr said they are currently working on choosing those communities. He added the Innovation Wyrkshop has developed an extensive training program for students and others, and is prepared to do the heavy lifting for getting the space up and running.
"The idea is for a space, or a location, that hasn't ever had a makerspace in the past, this is exactly the toolkit that they need to get started," Kerr said.
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