Students returning for spring semester in February will discover a new space in what is now ’85 in the Anderson Student Center. Thanks to a collaboration between the Opus College of Business and the Division of Student Affairs, St. Thomas will have its first maker space: a creative commons for students who are interested in creating things, either for their own personal enrichment or for potential future business opportunities.

The concept of a maker space at St. Thomas originated with Brian Abraham, associate dean of the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship in the Opus College of Business. “The idea that entrepreneurs must be business majors is false,” said Abraham. “We want to put this area where it will have a lot of visibility and foot traffic so that St. Thomas students of all majors and interests can develop their own ideas and creativity.”

The space will have tools like 3D printers, laser cutters and sewing machines. A “huddle” zone will have technology for meetings and conference calls. A lounge will provide space for lectures and collaborative programming.

AnnMarie Thomas, who has a dual faculty appointment in the School of Engineering and the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship and who wrote the book Making Makers, is developing programming for the space.

“The best ideas often come from bringing together unusual combinations of disciplines,” she said, noting plans to bring in guest speakers who are makers and entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities to share their expertise. “We’re really looking forward to students who aren’t even taking a class related to these topics to drop in and try their hand at making something.”

Once the space opens, Thomas envisions events including make-a-thons and design challenges. She sees the high visibility location as a major asset. “What I look forward to most is empowering the spark in the students who just stumble in,” she said.

Karen Lange, St. Thomas vice president for student affairs, is excited about partnering with the Opus College of Business. “It is an opportunity for us to create an innovative space open to all students,” said Lange. “In addition, we will be able to create more recreation space in the lower level of the student center which will enhance that space for students to interact and engage with each other.”

The remodeling of ’85 will cause a shuffling of some of the recreation equipment in the student center. Many of the gaming consoles currently located in ’85 will be moved to the lower level of the student center in what used to be the Madison & Co. salon. Favorites like darts and skee ball will be relocated to Bowling, while bubble hockey and shuffle board will move to Scooter’s.

Construction has already begun and will continue through J-Term. A grand opening celebration will be scheduled for early spring semester.

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