If you follow college football at all, then you know about Penn State University’s (PSU) team — the Nittany Lions. The team plays in NCAA Division I as a member of the Big Ten Conference, and it is ranked #8 in overall wins, just one game behind Alabama and Oklahoma. While you may love football, what does it have to do with 3D printing? Well, if you have ever lived in a college football town like State College, Pennsylvania before you quickly learn that the town is all but consumed by football. (I know this because I grew up in another notorious college football town: Lincoln, Nebraska. Go Cornhuskers!) The notion that there is anything else to do on an autumn afternoon except play or watch football, from tailgating to the post-game festivities, is almost sacriligeous in college football towns. So it’s quite impressive that some folks in State College have managed to pull together a Make Space that gives the football-challenged an alternative outlet for community building. There’s more going on than football at State College: and that includes 3D printing in a community-based Make Space.
The State College Make Space was started up in 2011 by a student entrepreneur group, Innoblue, before it was passed on to another student group named HackPSU. Located on a nondescript street in downtown State College, the Make Space has evolved in the past four years into a fully functioning space for sharing tools and information and conducting community workshops. The space is outfitted with a 3D printed 3D printer: yes, you heard me right.
Make Space co-founder Eric Furjanic explained that the Make Space builds its 3D printer’s capabilities in a manner befitting a project so dedicated to open source sharing:
“This printer was made from pieces printed on another 3D printer. The plans for the printer are on a sort of wiki page. That means that everyone can think of improving one of the printer’s widgets, so it evolves because everyone is pitching in.”
In fact, the Make Space is all about collaboration with community and campus entities. For example, for a local Arts Fest, the PSU Anthropology Department’s Dr. Mark Shriver worked with the Make Space to do 3D portraits — a ” high tech spin of the caricature artists at the carnival.” Dr. Shriver described the experience working with Make Space as a “really natural collaboration.”Another example of a collaborative project is “Maker’s Week After Hours.” The biggest Make Space project yet, this involved working with the local Schlow Library to display a series of gadgets for the entire community to experience.
It appears that in a college town where football reigns supreme, there’s plenty of community support and interest in non-football related activity, too. The State College Make Space, with their community-built 3D printer and collaborative Maker spirit, appears to be working wonders in bridging the “town (community) and gown (campus)” relationship. Leave it to 3D printing’s fascinating applications and developments to pull even the most ardent football fans away from the stadium at times to experience the thrill of making things that were once merely figments of the imagination. Who knows? I am sure there are plenty of 3D printed things football players and their fans could use when it comes to making more of that good ol’ team spirit come to life!
That spirit is further demonstrated in an upcoming 24-hour hackathon, to be held November 7th at PSU. Were you able to take part in this new Maker Space? Let us know in the State College Maker Space forum thread on 3DPB.com.[Photos: Sean Gregory/Onward State]