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KCI Launches Vibrant New Makerspace

May 15, 2018

student working on 3D printer

In December of 2017, KCI launched an exciting new resource for our local community, the KCI Makerspace. This space provides our community with the resources to design and “make,” using a variety of computer-aided design and manufacturing tools. The goal is to be a regional resource for many KCI constituents: Foothill College’s students and staff, local area educators, and the broader San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The new facility is grant funded by the state chancellor’s office through the California Community Colleges (CCC) Maker initiative.

KCI’s core mission is to serve educators, and the Makerspace expands what we offer. As a result, some classes every quarter are designed for K-14 educators. Starting in the summer of 2018, ten new Foothill College, for-credit courses will be offered focused on design thinking, computational thinking, computer science, and 3D design. KCI is fortunate to have adjunct faculty with the expertise to lead these classes.

The courses will be taught in the new Makerspace using high-end equipment, which includes a laser cutter, two vinyl cutters, soldering stations, six 3D printers (three Dremels, one Makerbot and two Pegasus), two Carveys, a sewing machine, microcontrollers, hand tools, woodworking materials, and much more. Over time the plan is to purchase additional woodworking tools (including routers, hand tools and non-CAM machines), along with two additional laser cutters and assorted other tools.

KCI has already kicked off programs in the Makerspace. In February, KCI conducted its first Maker Bootcamp. Participants spent two intensive weeks combined with three online courses for a total of 132 hours of training to complete a Makerspace Skills Certificate program. The goal of the certificate is to train people to enter para-educator positions in schools, camps, and other youth maker programs. The participants learned how

makerspaces function as hubs for innovation, where members work collaboratively to share knowledge and skills. Participants also learned the Design Thinking process, developed by Stanford University’s, and how it applies to many manufacturing frameworks. Santa Clara Unified School District sent three staff to attend the new program since the district is deploying makerspaces at a number of its sites. One Bootcamp participant, Samuel Santos, commented, “This program gave me the key to clarity and creativity for my own work, but also emphasized sharing and helping others to find their own inspiration and turn it into something real.”

Besides classes, KCI is offering a membership option for the local community. This option is becoming popular since other community makerspaces, like TechShop, have closed, leaving many in the maker community without a place to work. Members can sign up on a quarterly basis through Foothill College’s Community Education program.

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