Illinois Emerging Technology Report – Sample

The Illinois Emerging Technology Report is now available in eText format. It’s a free download to all University of Illinois Faculty, Staff, and Students!

To get yours, go to:

Upon successful transaction (again, it’s free), your access to the Illinois Emerging Technology Report will automatically activate and you can check it out at

So, what’s it like? Check out a sample of the one of the chapters about the Maker Movement at Illinois, below.

The Maker Movement at Illinois

Jamie Nelson, CITES Academic Technology Services

Fall 2014

We are all makers (logo)

The Maker Movement

We are on the cusp of a renaissance in the invention movement. A movement which encourages others to build upon the knowledge of the existing open community. Some describe this as the next chapter in the industrial revolution, but with a focus on the individual (or community) as designer, inventor, entrepreneur, and even manufacturer. Never before have we had such access to shared resources, low cost tools, computing, open source applications, and an open global community of people eager to help each other. The resulting nexus of this is the Maker Movement.

Makerspace in One Sentence

A makerspace is a workspace with a variety of tools, materials, and resources available in which a community of people gather to design, prototype, create, experiment, socialize, and collaborate on an endless array of projects.

Makerspace panel at Faculty Summer Institute 2014

Maker Movement on Campus

The University of Illinois and surrounding community have embraced, and is at the forefront of, the Maker Movement. Making is not new at the university. Engineering and Architecture have had prototyping labs and design studios, respectively, for years. What is new and unique to this campus is the variety and openness of new makerspace resources that have emerged over the past couple of years. Each of these makerspaces, while having many commonalities, have their own specializations that distinguish them from the others, resulting in a complementary and dynamic makerspace community. Below are three of the makerspaces open to all, two at the University of Illinois and one in the community:

The Illinois MakerLab

The Illinois MakerLab is unique in that it is a 3D printing lab housed in the College of Business. This lab contains the highest number of 3D printers available in one place on campus and is open to the university and community alike during scheduled open hours, typically 30 hours a week. The lab is staffed by student workers known as “Gurus” to keep the machines running and help patrons with any projects that they have. Illinois MakerLab also hosts a variety of workshops throughout the semester from soldering circuits to Raspberry Pi programming to 3D scanning. They were so ahead of the game, especially for a Business school, that a 3D printer from the Illinois MakerLab was featured on the cover of the 2013 New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report: Higher Education Edition.

Aric Rindfleisch on the Illinois MakerLab

The Illinois MakerLab hosted it’s first Making Things Class in Spring 2014. The class headed by Aric Rindfleisch, Executive Director of the Illinois MakerLab and Professor of Business Administration, focused on designing, prototyping, producing and bringing a product to market. Part of the experience was working in an interdisciplinary team bringing together Business, Art and Design, and Engineering students to work on one project.

Loop and Boost are two student products from the Making Things class.

Aric Rindfleisch on the Making Things Course

Aric Rindfleisch on Illinois MakerLab’s Outreach Mission

Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab


Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

The Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab is part of an international network of similar spaces. It supports both the campus and the community with educational and outreach missions. The Fab Lab contains a variety of equipment and open access computers. One unique feature of the Fab Lab is its dedication to outreach programs, including the Teen Open Lab hours at the Urbana Free Library. This collaboration utilizes a set of deployable maker carts, each containing the tools, materials, and instructions for a certain set of tasks, such as media production or 3D fabrication. Through a variety of grants the Fab Lab plans to extend this outreach model into other underserved areas throughout Illinois.

Jeff Ginger on Fab Labs

Jeff Ginger on Learning in a Makerspace

A unique feature of the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab is its strong support of project-based learning. Each summer and throughout the year the Fab Lab hosts low cost workshops for people of all ages, resulting in a variety of sharable project-based curricula. This fall, the Fab Lab will host its first university course, co-taught by Tyler Denmead, Assistant Professor in Art Education and Jeff Ginger, Operation Manager for the Fab Lab and Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences Ph.D. candidate.

Jeff Ginger on Outreach

Jeff Ginger on Art Education in the Fab Lab

Makerspace Urbana

Makerspace Urbana, like the most maker spaces, contains a variety of tools and resources available for use by anyone in the community. And while it’s not directly affiliated with the university, many of the people that frequent the space have some tie to campus. Makerspace Urbana’s community connections are deep, hosting an annual maker faire and engaging in outreach projects throughout the year, such as outreach booths at the Urbana’s Market at the Square. Most notably, Makerspace Urbana represents a social community of likeminded makers that collaborate together and generally have fun sharing their experience with others. As a part of that they have a very active Facebook group.

3D printed squirrel photobombs Makerspace Urbana

Makers into Entrepreneurs

With the great success of financial backing sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, makers can pitch an idea and get financial backing for their products. This opens the door for independent innovators seeking to get their product from concept into production. Previous models revolved around the backing of companies to decide whether or not a product is profitable enough to produce or in a few cases letting the patent expire and putting it into production later without any benefit to the original inventor. Not only have the floodgates opened for new ideas to hit the market, they are hitting it quite rapidly. One such example is Electroninks, a company from the Research Park at the University of Illinois, who wanted to make a pen whose conductive ink could be used to draw actual electrical circuits. Another local startup Oso Technologies created PlantLink, a set of various sensors and a base intended to monitor plant conditions wirelessly via a mobile device or computer. Lastly, Illinois Art and Design Professor, Deke Weaver, used Kickstarter to fund a production of WOLF as a part of his Unreliable Bestiary Series.

Other Resources/Articles

Alaska FABLAB: Dr. Alan Craig, I-CHASS Associate Director of for Human Computer Interaction, and Dr. Scott Poole, I-CHASS Director, in collaboration with Alaska Federation of Natives, the Traditional Council of Togiak, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks-Bristol Bay Campus have received an NSF grant to study the impact of a new Fab Lab in a rural Alaska Native village.

MechSE Rapid Prototyping Lab: The rapid prototyping lab in Mechanical Science and Engineering is available to provide professional 3D printing services to the whole campus at a subsidized rate.

Prototyped objects organized by the machines that created them.

We Are Makers: In Summer of 2013, a group from Abilene Christian University released a short film detailing the story of the maker movement entitled “We Are Makers”. In this film, they detail how the maker movement started, what it is, why its happening now, and revealing that we are all, indeed, makers.

Final Thought

Mats Selen, Professor in Physics and “Maker at Heart”, leaves us a final thought on the Maker Movement. He is also featured in another chapter of the Illinois Emerging Technology Report entitled Physics ‘Lab in a Box’ at Illinois, so be sure to check that out.

Mats Selen on Making

About Jamie Nelson

Jamie is an elearning professional specializing in the innovative use of technology in teaching and learning.
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