Canisius' new makerspace encourages hands-on experimentation with 3D printing, robotics and programming.
The move of art classrooms to the new center for the arts across West Ferry Street opened up space in the Montante wing for a new type of learning lab. The makerspace is a classroom, but it's also a space for tinkering and experimenting with robotics, drones, 3D printing and programming outside of class time. It will provide opportunities for students to determine earlier in their Canisius careers if they have an aptitude for computer science. "I've had students come in junior year with no idea if they like computer science. They just don't know much about it at that point," says Mr. Eric Amodeo '94, director of educational technology at Canisius.
All new Canisius students will be using the makerspace. Introduction to Innovative Technologies is a new required course for freshmen, replacing Freshman Seminar. "Freshman Seminar had run its course," explains Amodeo, "When we started the iPad program we were teaching how to use the iPad, but many of today's students have been using iPads since they were six years old." Students who need iPad or other basic technology training will still be able to get help, while the new freshman course exposes them to new technologies that are important in today's computer science careers. "Every freshman student now will do a basic 3D CAD (computer-aided design) drawing and then print his design. Each student will be able to take home something that he 3D printed."
Computer science classes in other grade levels will also use the makerspace, and the room will be open to all students even when there are classes in there. "The makerspace has more tables and workspaces than a class needs," Amodeo says. "If a student is interested, he can come in and tinker."
The makerspace will have a television screen on the wall, as well as one on the hallway wall outside, which will display what students are working on. Showcasing the work in progress can encourage experimentation and spark ideas in other students. "The movement in computer science is it's not just sit at a computer and write computer code anymore. It's write code that interacts with a physical object in the physical world," says Amodeo. "We are thrilled to have the space to do that properly."