Faculty and staff explore maker technologies at #MakeElon luncheon

Posted on: May 1, 2015 | By: Megan Porter | Filed under: Maker Hub
Participants learn about circuits. Photo by Dan Reis.

Participants learn about circuits with electric ink. Photo by Dan Reis.

Even though the #MakeElon luncheon had already been in full swing for about 20 minutes, the sandwiches and cookies had not been touched. Faculty, staff, and students were far too busy enjoying experimenting with the different types of technology set up around the room. A few pieces of the technology on display included moldable plastic, Legos and circuits, a 3D printer, and electric ink. To view all of the technology present, see more photos from the event here.

Eventually, instructional technologist Michael Vaughn called the making to a halt to remind participants that food was available, and that freely exploring the capabilities of technology was why the #MakeElon community was hosting a learning luncheon.

“Embrace the idea of looking foolish,” Vaughn said. “We’ve all done that. Embrace the idea of struggle and failure. We’ve trained ourselves out of embracing failure. It’s time to have fun while failing.”

Vaughn is just one staff member of #MakeElon, an unofficial group of faculty, staff and students that is trying to promote a makerspace at Elon. Throughout the semester, they have hosted workshops that featured groundbreaking technology such as the ones listed above. Vaughn supports the belief that innovation comes from communal making.

“This is a great fit for Elon in terms of engaged learning and creating a community,” Vaughn said.

The #MakeElon luncheon lived up to the group’s values. Laughter was often heard, and it didn’t take long for new inventions to start appearing at each table. Robin Plummer of the President’s Office used Instamorph, a material that allows the user to create and mold plastic, to expand her jewelry collection.

InstaMorph, moldable plastic. Photo by Dan Reis.

InstaMorph, moldable plastic. Photo by Dan Reis.

“It’s neat you can chose what to make.” Plummer said as she showed her new, custom made bracelet.

Plummer’s attitude reflects what #MakeElon hopes will happen in the fall when a makerspace is built in the residential building Harper Hall, located in the Colonnades neighborhood. This initiative wants to take the creativity and enthusiasm that already exists on campus and cultivate it into interesting, ambitious projects.

E-Learning support specialist Sara Vanderpool says the makerspace will be open for working on projects that are class related, and for an individual’s personal use as well. She believes students could even teach their professors a thing or two.

“Students may even lead their own workshops,” Vanderpool said. “I see it growing. There’s already strong interest.”

Elon database administrator Doug Purnell thinks that a makerspace is the current generation’s way of being creative with technology in a stress-free environment.

“This reminds me of electric kits I used to play with back in the 80s,” Purnell said. “This is just an extension of that. But it’s seen as cool and not for geeks.”

Doug Purnell and his structure made out of straws and connectors.

Doug Purnell and his structure made out of straws and connectors. Photo by Dan Reis.

From light-up nametags participants could construct at lunch tables, to the signs on the wall asking participants to talk about their creations, the #MakeElon luncheon fostered the ingenuity that will one day also be found in Elon’s makerspace.

If you’re interested in getting involved with making on campus, get information and see what events #MakeElon has hosted here.

Megan Porter

Megan Porter is a senior strategic communications major at Elon University from Westwood, MA. She is a blogger for Elon's Technology blog for the spring of 2015.

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