Friday, August 31, 2018

Reynolds MakerSpace: Bridging the Gap between 2D and 3D

“We’re on the brink of a new era of innovation. Will you survive it?
It’s better to prepare than adapt because,
by the time you see the need to adapt,
it may already be too late.”
Greg Satell, Author, Mapping Innovation, (Inc. Magazine, April 8, 2018)

Reynolds Math, Science and Engineering Department is preparing for a new era. Are you?

Innovation involves experimenting, testing, thinking differently, and creating with the mind and hands. Reynolds Professors Sylvia Clay and Salah Garada embraced the idea of innovation when they opened a “MakerSpace” in June. (Professor Sylvia Clay is pictured here with 3D printers in MakerSpace.)

With the MakerSpace launch they hosted a series of hands-on workshops. First came “3D Printing.” Next was “Robotics and Microcontrollers,” then “Learn to Crochet.” In the true spirit of innovation, those in attendance got to learn, experiment, test, think, and create with their minds and hands. The series was a success. 
If you haven’t heard, makerspaces and other innovation “labs” are popping up everywhere. While they are different from the original “hackerspaces” started in Berlin in 1995, they do share the same love and pursuit of creativity across all disciplines.

Some makerspaces are decked out with “maker” equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc (computer numerical control) machines, soldering irons and sewing machines. Others are simply a room with cardboard, legos, and art supplies. “It’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that’s at the core of a makerspace.” ( Currently Reynolds MakerSpace has 3-D printers, computers, micro-controllers, and electronics.

To truly bridge the gap between 2D (software and a screen) and 3D (a model version), the Reynolds MakerSpace wish list includes a laser cutter, CNC router, sewing machine, and power tools. These relative low cost items would overwhelmingly enhance a “makers” ability to not only visualize, but to produce inventions. That bridge is where the whole world of ideas opens up.

Funding is an issue. An industry-recognized software company gives Reynolds math, science, and engineering students free “modeling” software (a $2,000 per student, per year value), but when it comes to bringing ideas, inventions, and innovations into reality with “maker” machinery, the options are incredibly limited. Reynolds has the 2D, but needs more 3D.

“We launched MakerSpace with what we had. We wanted to show the need for this special place where the Reynolds community can come, learn, and try new things,” said Instructor and Engineering Program Head Sylvia Clay. “Instead of just talking about building a bridge, we can come to MakerSpace and build the bridge. This is exciting for everyone.”

“Students are eager to learn this way, to go beyond their classes and be challenged,” observed Clay. “In a MakerSpace they are anxious to help one another, to share their knowledge and expertise, not just with others in their field, but across department boundaries. Reynolds MakerSpace is for everyone at Reynolds. The doors are open for all to explore their ideas and get creative.”

Haven’t visited MakerSpace yet? Plan to visit soon. The location, hours and upcoming workshops are listed below.

Location and Hours
Burnette Hall, Room 156
Fall Hours:
Mondays & Wednesdays  |  10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Tuesdays & Thursdays  |   3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Fridays  |  10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
To request an additional time, email or call (804) 523-5598. For general questions, please email Sylvia Clay at

Upcoming Workshops
DATE CHANGE: Robotics and Microcontrollers with Mr. Garada
Thu, Sep 20 | 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Thanks to Hurricane Florence, this workshop, originally scheduled for Thu, Sep 13, is rescheduled for Thu, Sep 20. Same time.
Ever wonder what’s behind robotics and automation? Learn the basics, then assemble and program an Arduino microcontroller that could be used on a robot or in other automation settings.

3D Modeling in Inventor with Professor Clay
Wed, Sep 26 | 3 – 4:30 p.m.
First comes the model, then the creation. Learn the basics of 3D modeling with Inventor 2019, then create your masterpiece on the computer. Come back again for the 3D printing workshop and actually print your creation!

The Internet of Things with Mr. Garada
Mon, Oct 8 | 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Every wonder how smart homes get so smart? Maybe you would like to program them yourself. Mr. Garada will explain the mysteries. Learn how devices are paired with electronics, sensors and software to connect to the internet and then be remotely controlled.

3D Printing with Professor Clay
Thu, Nov 8 | 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Think a model, make a model. Professor Clay shows the basics 3D printing, then it’s your turn to print your model! Once you’ve attended this workshop you can use MakerSpace 3D printers during open hours.