Making Space for Innovation
Looking back, Matt Griswold '18 admits to knowing that his desire to bring a student makerspace to the University of New Hampshire would be a tall task — perhaps one that would never come to fruition. Less than a year later, however, he has accomplished his mission; the UNH Makerspace within the UNH Entrepreneurship Center (ECenter) in Madbury Commons opened this summer, giving UNH students and recent alumni a place to collaborate and create.
“There was no physical space readily available for students to make prototypes of the ideas and things they were designing,” says Griswold, an engineering physics major in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. “I wanted to change that.”
With help from UNHInnovation, Griswold brought the concept to life. The makerspace features 3-D printers, a laser cutter/engraver, a vinyl cutter, an electronics station, an industrial sewing machine, various hand tools and multiple software programs, including Solidworks, Autodesk Fusion 360, CorelDRAW and Repetier — all available for students to use.
“This space is independent of any college within UNH,” says Griswold, who works as a licensing associate at UNHInnovation and serves as chairperson of the makerspace. “We wanted a place where all students could come together and collaborate, to have that true interdisciplinary interaction.”
Student volunteers run the makerspace. Users must sign an agreement and acquire training on equipment. Students who become makerspace volunteers get advanced training and can gain access to the equipment outside of regular hours.
Griswold says now that the space is open, its board is focused on expanding its student volunteer network, increasing its hours and adding more advanced machinery. They’ve applied for $300,000 in grants/tax credits and hope to implement a brand ambassadors program as a way of obtaining more equipment.
“We want to continue to demonstrate the demand, interest and value of having a makerspace on campus,” says Griswold. “We are hoping this space becomes one of multiple satellite locations at UNH.”