JCSU’s very own Dr. Chantell McDowell attended the 1st International Academic Makerspace Symposium (ISAM) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from November 13-16, 2016. The ISAM joined people, knowledge, and inspiration in an attempt to catalyze growth for higher education makerspaces. By increasing the amount of makerspaces in higher education it would maximize university impact on (i) the student learning experiences and (ii) alumni success. The symposium served as an opportunity for community growth, networking opportunities, interactions and knowledge sharing between stakeholders who are passionate about developing makerspaces. The ISAM community includes, but is not limited to, student and faculty advocates, upper administration/leadership, government policy makers, educational researchers and makerspace managers and other practitioners.
ISAM 2016 has been beneficial to Dr. McDowell’s research and to the future development of Johnson C. Smith University’s Makerspace. Many at ISAM were in similar situations with their academic makerspaces. All of the spaces represented at the symposium were new and many were trying to figure out how they should work. Dr. McDowell was able to gather a fountain of knowledge from others, including what has and has not worked for them. Dr. McDowell hopes to use the knowledge gained from ISAM to further create and enhance the JCSU’s Makerspace. In addition to the makerspace discussion portion Dr. McDowell also received some feedback about the project she is currently working on and plans to incorporate some of the advice into the development of a meaningful research project. Attending the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces, and connecting with other faculty and students, has helped to confirm many decisions and investments for the JCSU Makerspace.