Help make Saint John’s 1st Makerspace happen

Written by Lisa Hrabluk

Best-selling author. Award-winning journalist. Purpose-led entrepreneur. Find me hanging out where culture, people and ideas collide.

April 7, 2014


Wayne Hansen has a dream. So does Heather McKend. Ditto Peter McKelvey, Susan Almon, Sharon Rathod, Nora Kennedy, Mark Breen and Wicked Ideas’ own Eric Kennedy and Bill Duncan.

They all want to help create a Makerspace in Saint John – and they want you to join them. They don’t know where it’s going to be or how it’s going to be funded but screw it, they’re doing it.

As they say down in Boston, one of the most important ideas in entrepreneurship is ‘just start it’. That’s what Hansen – musician, documentarian and manager of the Student Technology Centre at UNB Saint John – is going to do this spring, and it looks like there are a whole lot of people willing to help. On April 3rd, 2014, he hosted a get-together at UNB Saint John’s student lounge and over plates of free pizza over 80 people showed up to talk about Saint John’s new Makerspace.

“My big goal is to create a space that can capture the imagination of students and others in the community,” said Hansen, who has been playing around with the idea for a few years. “For instance, we’ve got this 3D printer and students can use it to create things from their own designs. We just need to make it happen for them.”

Heather McKend and Nora Kennedy, both librarians with the Saint John Free Public Library, want to help make that happen too. They see the Markerspace movement as a natural extension of the idea of the Learning Commons, which is the evolution of public libraries into spaces that combine information resources with technology to create a space for doing neat stuff.

“For instance, kids could come into the library for our Christmas activities, design their own cookie cutter, print it out on the 3D printer and then go home and bake something special for Grandma and Grandpa,” says McKend, the children’s librarian. “I’ve read about kids who are using 3D printers to design their own iPhone cases – that’s really popular. It’s all about letting them imagine something and then help them make it real.”

Hansen’s hope is to create a Makerspace at UNB Saint John, available for free to students and open to others via a monthly membership fee. It will also be a part of the Brilliant Labs universe, helping to connect Saint John area students to the Government of New Brunswick’s new initiative to help drive innovation in schools via the development of new projects in robotics, the arts and coding.

If you want to join Saint John’s Makerspace movement join the conversation below and let us know what you’d like to be able to do at a Makerspace, or ideas you have about what the space should include. You can also contact Wayne Hansen directly via Twitter and join the Facebook Fan Page.

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