Largest makerspace opens at University of Queensland

The University of Queensland opened Australia’s largest university makerspace this week. Named “UQ Innovate”, the space will provide space for students, academics, and researchers to use machines such as 3D printers, vacuum formers, industrial robots, and waterjet cutters.

To enable visitors to get the most out of the technology, technical and trade qualified staff will be on hand to direct attendees and guide them in the effective application of the available technology.

“With the launch of UQ Innovate, we are in a much stronger position to fuel [students’] curiosity, so they can drive sustainable solutions at the cutting edge, today and tomorrow,” said UQ Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology executive dean, Professor Vicki Chen.

Having a space such as UQ Innovate will allow students to gain direct experience of how products and solutions are designed, beyond the classroom.

University of Queensland student groups welcomed the opening of the Makerspace, as it will allow them to produce competitive designs beyond what was previously possible.

“With the launch of these new facilities, we have the tools we need to tackle even more exciting and challenging projects, with the aim to go further than any Australian university team has gone before,” said managing director of UQ Space, Myrthe Snoeks.

Makerspaces have sprung up at university campuses around the globe to enable students to get involved with advanced manufacturing processes, while also allowing the public to see how innovative techniques produced products in industrial settings.

These facilities have broadened the public’s engagement with engineering, manufacturing, and scientific processes, and outside of the universities have been developed at libraries and municipal centres to widen the spread of STEM knowledge.

The first maker lab in Australia opened in November 2012, in Adelaide, and is now known as Makerspace Adelaide. Funding comes from a raft of organisations, including government and private enterprise.

Makerspaces have not only provided space for tinkering, but have also contributed to the establishment of engineering and manufacturing start-ups and allowed wider engagement with similar projects.