Where can Korea University (KU) students express their ideas with industrial tools? Until now, facilities outside of school were the only choice, but KU Maker’s Space is going to be the alternative. Establishing another facility for student-led creation, KU is taking a leap to become a pioneer of advanced educational environments. KU Maker’s Space provides students with ample instruments and support from several organizations.
Welcome, KU Maker’s Space
On July 18, KU Maker’s Space (X-Garage#1) opened in the Innovation Building. Built with support from KU and KU LINC+, the space is the first establishment of KU’s X-Garage project. X, the unknown quantity in mathematics, symbolizes students’ active efforts in solving problems about the uncertain future. Just as Steve Jobs laid the foundation for Apple in his garage, KU’s X-Garage is expected to be a place for development. N15, a company specialized in educating start-up founders about hardware-acceleration, is in charge of the operation of KU Maker’s Space. Working with the corporation, Crimson Start-up Support Foundation is going to develop its own curricula.
"I hope that students enhance their creativity through the process of making and destroying by using various tools,” said KU President Yeom Jae Ho at the opening ceremony of KU Maker’s Space. It is an extension of KU’s previous works for developing creativity and assisting start-ups. For example, PI(π)-Ville opened its rooms along with professional counsel from patent lawyers, angel investors and venture capitalists to help people establish new businesses. The process in which KU students take the initiative in discussing their ideas and then receive sufficient support from experts is similar to that of KU Maker’s Space.
Enough to Fall in Love
KU Maker’s Space distinguishes itself with its specialization in hardware. Among the 596m²space, sections are divided into wood work, manufacture, digital machine, digital fabric, electronic control, and MakingHUB. Several desks and chairs are in the MakingHUB to provide students spaces to discuss and check their work. On the ceiling there is one hose for each desk, which emits compressed air to blow dirt from newly manufactured items during the final step.
Students and faculties of the College of Engineering participated in a survey to determine the list of necessary equipment. Taking the preliminary investigation into account, the digital machine chamber is equipped with three large laser cutters, a vacuum molding machine and an ultraviolet printer. Unlike their names, laser cutters can not only cut but also carve products by controlling strength, and the ultraviolet printer can even print textures. Other tools including threedimensional printers, computer numerical control carvers and printed circuit board (PCB) machines are also going to be of practical use.
The most important feature of KU Maker’s Space is the curriculum of Design Thinking. It consists of five steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test. The design course is used in many institutions including D-School at Stanford University, which is KU’s target of benchmarking. An industrial example of the methodology is a friendly design of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner for children. Dough Dietz, who worked at GE Healthcare after graduating from D-School, made it because children were scared of the instrument’s overwhelming appearance. As shown in this case, Design Thinking is meaningful in that it can produce practical solutions.
Photographed by Oh Ju Shin
KU is getting into line with the global trend to provide students the opportunity to personally draw up plans and manufacture original goods. The ultimate goal of KU Maker’s Space is to help students make products that the world needs, so that they can start new businesses. Professor Shim Joon Hyung (Department of Mechanical Engineering) said, “Manufacturing actually gives students the time to realize how to reconcile the idea with technology, set the price, and find what people want.” However, letting unaccustomed students freely create cannot ensure the promising aspect of high quality manufacture and start-up challenges. Thus, programs for teaching the method of using the furnished tools are first needed.
▲ Machines in the Digital Machine Chamber.
Photographed by Oh Ju Shin
KU Maker’s Space is Waiting for Users
KU Maker’s Space targets the entire KU student body. Its plan is to include the facility in the existing engineering course s and then to develop workshops. Major required courses such as Creativity in Machine Design are the first to attempt the conjunction with Maker’s Space. Professor Shim commented, “Our initial task is exposing this space to as many students as possible.” It means that students from the College of Liberal Arts are also embraced. Any interested student is recommended to register for available courses during the registration period because further training workshops are not prepared yet.
Professor Shim’s vision is to build a virtuous cycle which is only feasible in schools. Close relationships between seniors and juniors enable a process in which learners get educated and then become trainers to help juniors. “Hardware gears are well equipped in external spaces, but their attendees do not dare to gather forces with others and foster better space for makers,” Professor Shim stressed. The pyramidal structure of education levels is designed to carry forward this cycle and breed up substantive would-be founders. “Although beginner level curricula are open to everyone, advanced level for autonomous creation is aimed to elective students,” said Professor Shim.
▲ Professor Shim Joon Hyung.
Photographed by Oh Ju Shin
KU Maker’s Space is also active in searching for further assistance. Besides lecturers from related industries, it is going to expand user ranges to ordinary people when organized curricula settle in the space, so that they can share ideas and technologies with students. For the settlement of curricula, cooperation from faculty and students is needed. KU professors from any field are able to suggest education programs, and Professor Shim is asking for the addition of sections or assignments using the space in their courses.
With KU Maker’s Space marking the first X-Garage project, the project for innovation in KU is in progress now. The second service is going to be settled in PI(π)-Ville, although its specific scheme is not determined yet. Attention and cooperation of all KU members are the key to the success of the project to develop students’ ingenuity and power for foundation. Thus, future steps of KU Maker’s Space are going to be the cornerstone.