University of Iowa engineering students now have a new space to bring their ideas to life. It’s called the Engineering Makerspace, and it is located on the lower level of Burge Residence Hall.
Students can collaborate at one of a half dozen workstations in a large open area. Smaller spaces in the back house a wet room, 3D printers, and a textile space. Glass walls are perfect for scribbling down equations and designs, and outlets suspended from the ceiling provide plenty of power.
“Students no longer need to crowd their dorm rooms or make their way back to the Seamans Center to collaborate,” said Clàudia Archer, a biomedical engineering student and president of the Iowa 3D Club. “Having an engineering space closer in proximity to residence halls will incentivize students to more frequently brainstorm and act upon their ideas.”
A team of faculty, staff, and students from the College of Engineering, Division of Student Life, and Housing and Dining worked on the project for more than a year before it opened in October 2023. The design saw 14 iterations before the final concept.
“Students, this is your space," Dean Ann McKenna said during an opening celebration in October 2023. "We want you to be proud of it.”
Nicole Grosland, engineering’s associate dean for academic programs, said the space was designed to go beyond a place to imagine, problem-solve, create, and innovate. Grosland envisions the space will build teamwork and communication skills.
"Perhaps most importantly, it is designed to foster a sense of belonging and to build community," Grosland said.
Burge is home to the People in Engineering Living Learning Community, so it was a natural choice for the Engineering Makerspace.
With hundreds of students living in rooms on the floors above, the grand staircase in the Burge lobby descends directly to the Engineering Makerspace. Large windows allow a glimpse at the creations occurring inside.
Archer said students will be able use the space to build up from the initial design concept to assembling prototypes. No matter what the stage of the project, there are tools easily accessible and ready for use, she said.
"The Seamans Center is a Hawkeye engineer’s ‘home,’ but the Makerspace is the new ‘home away from home,’” Archer said.