MAKLab is a Scottish charity which aims to bring tools to all people for building and creating stuff – and most stuff really. As part of Global Entrepreneurs Week, University of Glasgow have joined forces with MAKLab to create GU’s first pop-up Makerspace, a space where the MAKLab tools were given straight to the students. The launch party at the University Chapel provided grand surroundings which were in strange contrast to the modern technology on display. The evening began with a buffet (always a good start) and gave us the chance to mingle with the speakers and the MAKLab demonstrators who showed us one of their 3D printers and a digital embroidery machine in action. Wine in hand, I tried to maintain a safe distance from the 3D printer and was almost relieved when we were called to take our seats (much less chance of me spilling something sitting down).
Kicking-off the evening’s talks was Professor Susan Waldron, Dean of Graduate Studies for the college of Science and Engineering, whose passion for the project was clear. She explained how providing a Makerspace was beneficial for the university as well as its students, creating a platform for innovation and providing researchers with the chance to integrate different skills or to learn completely new ones. Prof Waldron feels that whether your background is in art or in science, it is always important to challenge yourself and that these workshops will provide the perfect opportunity to try something that is out of your comfort zone.
Next to take the stage was Richard Clifford, Executive Director of MAKLab. It’s difficult to sum up what MAKLab do in a few short sentences so I’d definitely recommend checking out their website. MAKLab was founded in 2012 with the aim of providing people with low-cost access to equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutting. Now, Richard and his team provide teaching, workshops (like those available at the Makerspace) and community outreach programs throughout Scotland, holding the strong belief that everyone, no matter their age, background or location should have access to these potentially life-changing skills and technologies.
Dr Kiran Ramesh, a lecturer in aerospace engineering continued on the theme of the importance of technology, introducing the concept that technology could be ‘the great equaliser’ with increasing availability and decreasing cost of modern technology directly improving people’s lives. Next up, current student Omar Tufail discussed his own entrepreneurial journey in founding NomYap, a mobile app enabling students to meet like-minded individuals around campus. He gave an inspiring talk about his experiences, discussed the opportunities made available to him through the university and the importance of maintaining a positive mental attitude. The final speaker was (soon to be Dr) Carla Brown whose talk ‘Passion, Pals, Play and Persistence’ shared the ups and downs of setting up her own company whilst undertaking her PhD in microbiology. She talked about her passion for the gamification of science and public engagement, discussing the challenges she faced in the journey to becoming director of Game Dr and how it wouldn’t have been possible without a little help from her friends.
With a week jam-packed with workshops to look forward to and some very inspiring talks to take in, I feel like a MAKLab membership might be going on my Christmas list…