It seems to me that Makers and Making, along with the advent of the Citizen Scientist is one of the most exciting things to happen in science and technology for a long time. While there have always been hobbyests (right back to the MIT Model Rail Club) it seems to me that there is an up-swell of scientific and engineering thinking and behaviour. Indeed, it seems that technology, and particularly the ethos behind open sources is driving new and exciting initiatives that we can all participate in. Of course there is the obvious crowd-sourcing (human computation) connection, but citizen science and the rise of the maker space / lab is predicated on people being interested in science, and empowered by technology. The Big Bang Theory tagline is that ‘smart is the new sexy’ and this seems to be encouraging people to be ‘OK’ with channelling their inner geek! As a mark of just how far this has come, even mainstream educational institutions are creating maker spaces, of course being academics we have to call them something BIG such as UCLs ‘Institute of Making‘
The Institute of Making is a multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to diamonds, socks to cities. Annual membership of the institute is available to all UCL staff and students.
Our programme of symposia, masterclasses and public events explores the links between academic research and hands-on experience, and celebrates the sheer joy of stuff. Its mission is to provide all makers with a creative home in which to innovate, contemplate and understand all aspects of materials and an inspiring place to explore their relationship to making.
At the heart of the Institute of Making is the Materials Library – a growing repository of some of the most extraordinary materials on earth, gathered together for their ability to fire the imagination and advance conceptualisation. A place in which makers from all disciplines can see, touch, research and discuss, so that they can apply the knowledge and experience gained to their own practice.
Alongside the collection is the MakeSpace – a workshop where members and guests can make, break, design and combine both advanced and traditional tools, techniques and materials.
However, it is still a big leap forward into the mainstream academic world.