7 Steps in Planning a MakerSpace

Hand Sketch of a 3D Printing Lab

The creation of spaces where students, adults, and other “makers” can do hands-on projects as part of a learning process or the development of an idea or product is a movement that is gathering steam around the country and the world. The new value placed on labs that are places for developing skills for innovation and invention harkens back to the age of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and breakthroughs such as the electric light bulb and the telephone. There is a new understanding that evolving technologies can empower people and especially students to create solutions to problems and challenges in our world. In fact, the ability of America to compete on the world stage may depend on the ingenuity of our youth and their ability to create solutions to the problems that face humanity. So, if you want to create a MakerSpace, how do you go about planning one?

STEP 1: Retain a design professional with experience in planning MakerSpaces.
  • Choose a professional with previous experience in planning MakerSpaces and familiarity with the types of equipment and support requirements needed in such a space.
  • Establish a preliminary schedule for planning, facility design, and construction with key milestones to meet if the implementation of the proposed MakerSpace must be complete by key dates in the school year.
STEP 2: What are the Goals for the Makerspace?
  • Set Goals: Numerous types of MakerSpaces can be found in public and school libraries, engineering departments, art departments or groups, grade schools, meet up groups, crafts groups, private industry and many other organizations all with varying users and equipment. The first most important step for your plan is to write down why you will be developing a MakerSpace in the first place (what are your goals?) and what you wish the outcome will be for students, participants, and the organization. It will also be important to obtain key stakeholder input on your goals as there may be diverse opinions on what a MakerSpace should be for your organization.
  • Create a written plan: From the beginning a written plan is essential. All parts of the plan will develop incrementally from the goals established.

Hand Sketch of a Woodworking Lab

STEP 3: Who will use the Makerspace and what are the expected outcomes?
  • Provide a written summary of who will use the MakerSpace.
  • Describe the type of MakerSpace planned and anticipated.
  • Describe the expected outcome for the users of the MakerSpace. This outcome would include supporting pedagogy, real world curriculum implementation, developing new levels of learning, real world problem solving, the creation of new products, the creation of incubator spaces, and more. The opportunities and options are many. Summarize the expected outcome and add it to the written goal statement.
STEP 4: Identify who will participate in the lab.
  • Identify faculty or staff have an interest in using the lab. An informal or formal survey to determine interest should be made to identify those parties. These are critical stakeholders that will potentially provide knowledge, skills, resources, and space for the proposed lab. They also will have opinions and ideas that will need to be incorporated.
  • Determine who will lead or champion the lab. This is an essential organizational role for the success of the lab. A single leader is needed to bring together all elements of planning and implementation.
  • Identify any business partners. Contact and identify any potential business partners that may have an interest in participating in utilizing the lab or have a willingness to support the development of the lab with funding or equipment.
  • Identify potential spaces to support the proposed MakerSpace.
STEP 5: Detailed Survey of Stakeholders and Resources
  • Make a formal survey of all interested stakeholders to determine specific goals and objectives, individual skills, and resources they can offer.
  • Evaluate existing equipment and desired equipment with notes on the manufacturer, equipment identification, and equipment
  • Document the survey information and prepare a summary report for review.
  • Hold a charrette or brainstorming session with all stakeholders to review input and identify the types of lab spaces desired and equipment needed. Establish priorities that will allow the planner to determine what will fit the budget.

Conceptual Floor Plan of the Wright State University Innopreneurship Lab

STEP 6: Develop a Program of Use for the MakerSpace
  • Provide a written program of intended lab uses and specialized requirements which will include equipment lists, square footages, and specialized electrical and HVAC requirements. This document is best produced with the assistance of a professional.
  • Identify a proposed physical space as a result of the program development or if identified in advance, and develop the program to fit within the allotted space.
  • Develop a preliminary assessment of the space for code compliance and existing infrastructure support for the proposed equipment uses.
  • Develop a schedule and budget for the proposed project.
  • Determine available funding.
STEP 7: Design and Construction
  • Review all budgets, schedules, and key milestones.
  • Proceed with proposed project design and construction.
MakerSpace Resources

Make: is the magazine for Makers, which was first published in 2005 and used the word “Maker” to name the community. Now in its 13th year, Make: is published bi-monthly in print and features dozens of DIY technology projects. Called the “bible” for makers, Make: and its companion website, Makezine.com, cover makers, their projects and technologies as well as the communities that grow up around them.
Read on at: makezine.com

Maker Faire is the “Greatest Show on Earth,” an incredible celebration of makers and a showcase of innovative-in-the making. Maker Faire is the best evidence of the power and reach of the Maker Movement — all around the globe. The first Maker Faire was held in 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, there were nearly 200 Maker Faire around the world with four of the events drawing at or above 100,000 people in San Mateo, New York, Rome and Shenzhen.
Experience the movement: makerfaire.com