uCreate Studio, The University of Edinburgh’s community makerspace discuss the benefits of makerspaces.
uCreate Studio, managed by Mike Boyd and run day-to-day by Anthony Middleton, offers equipment, advice, training, and support to help you make (almost) anything.
Based in Edinburgh University’s Main Library, uCreate Studio provides free access to a wide range of tools and equipment including 3D printing and scanning, die-cutting, vacuum forming, virtual reality, vacuum forming, CNC milling, electronics and more.
CREATE Education in conversation with: Anthony Middleton and Mike Boyd
Why are makerspaces important in education & industry?
Our makerspace has offered skill training, space for creative expression and technology access to huge numbers of students who could not have accessed or learned about this equipment otherwise. In addition, we offer equipment and expertise for study and research to explore new avenues created by emergent technology.
In education, makerspaces encourage
- Hands-on learning
- Self-directed learning
- Peer and collaborative learning
- Learning through doing
- Practical application of skills learneded in courses
In industry, makerspaces promote
- Design thinking
- Collaborative working
- Collaboration across and between disciplines and teams
uCreate Studio was delighted to have won the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Library Team’ for their work during the 2018/19 Academic Year.
How does the uCreate Studio improve student outcomes?
Having space to apply learning, test out theories and explore new ideas can lead to a better understanding for the student.
Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning views active learning – doing the real thing – as the best for retention, with 90% of what we do being remembered after 2 weeks. As Confucius put it “I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
Ale Vargas, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Edinburgh 3D printed a model of a jet engine.
George Dzavaryan, the technical director of Edinburgh University student start-up Augment Bionics with 3D-printed upper limb prosthetic.
Learning iterative design in a context where it is safe to fail
We tell our new members during our induction that while in the makerspace to fail fast and often, to prototype, to play, to experiment and that failure can be built upon. We offer our services for free to our members, including material cost, and that means they can learn without being restricted with worries about messing up, can learn from intermediate steps and can iterate to get their final piece.
How are the Makerspace users developing key skills for the 21st Century?
Whether it is hands-on with new tech, or in online workshops with new software, our makers (and studio staff) are always learning.
uCreate Studio was asked to 3D print Bobby Seagull’s brain for a BBC Horizon segment.
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Judgement and decision making
- Cognitive flexibility
These are 5 of the top 10 employable skills in 2020 highlighted in the World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs” report. Makerspaces have been at the vanguard of promoting these skills as automation and changing lifestyles have (and continue to) reshape the workplace. Beyond this, makerspace cultivate a passion for technology, removing the fear and nervousness felt by some when encountered by some unfamiliar kit and replacing it with excitement to find out how it works and what it can do.
Inspiring and engaging students
Our membership grows every year and our biggest marketing platform continues to be our makers telling everyone they know about how great the experience they have had is and to come along. Our makers start with an induction, learning the basics, printing a baby Yoda from Thingiverse and we watch as they progress onto course-related projects, personal projects, collaborative projects as individuals, societies and more. 3D printing is also a fantastic hook, that brings students into a space where they learn about all the other technologies and end up engaging with a huge amount more than they had planned when they first came along.
Also, so many come or hear of us and think this is a space for engineering students, but we have members from every school in the university because of the broad applications, scanning and printing bones for archaeologists, crowns for historians, skulls and valves for doctors and vets, turbine blades, drones, art pieces, architecture, seaweed, chemical structures – every school has sought out and been able to apply our offerings.
“An educational makerspace is less of a classroom and more of a motivational speech without words.”
Teacher Librarian: The Journal for School Library Professionals, 2014
Makerspaces provide students with tools to make a material impact on the world around them; to build and test solutions to problems and to prototype new products and businesses. Students naturally become engaged and inspired by the empowerment this affords.
uCreate Studio helped Dr Emma Perkins by using their 3D printers. She needed a realistic model to take into schools for public engagement activities and help demonstrate her research into neurodegenerative diseases. The model was generated from a high-resolution reconstruction of the complex dendrites of a Purkinje neuron from the rat cerebellum.