/  March 17, 2017

UW staff and students showcase projects at CoMotion MakerSpace "Show & Tell"

Last week, the CoMotion MakerSpace hosted one of their quarterly Show & Tell events. These events are designed to welcome the community into the MakerSpace to experience first-hand some of the amazing work that happens throughout the year. This quarter, 21 participants volunteered to give demonstrations and display their work. The projects utilized a wide range of technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting, virtual reality, touch-activated mechatronics, drones, in addition to many others.

Daren Chaisy, alongside some of his fellow Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE) students, created an augmented reality application on the Microsoft Hololens. Sponsored by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, their project allowed NASA scientists to simulate their field geology experience on Mars in a virtual environment.

Avid fans of the MakerSpace, Daren and his team don't believe their project could have happened without it. “When we were starting our project, we were unsure if there were resources [on campus] that could support us in creating a prototype on the Hololens,” Daren recalls. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to find another group on campus that would have allowed us to use the device for the amount of time that we did.” The CoMotion MakerSpace is the only place on campus that has virtual reality and augmented reality technology available for UW students and staff to use.

Chloe Meisner, a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts, is both a student employee at the CoMotion MakerSpace and a cosplay enthusiast. At the Show & Tell, she donned the costume she had worn to Emerald City Comicon earlier this month. Replicating a character from one of her favorite video games, Chloe had used a combination of 3D printing and sewing to create her masterpiece. The costume was an intricately designed dress fully equipped with long, billowing sleeves and, perhaps most impressively, giant articulated claws. The claws themselves were 3D printed and then fishing wire and metal rings were fashioned into a glove-like apparatus that the wearer used to puppet the claws and move them each individually.

Tracy Tran, an engineering student, cites the MakerSpace as her favorite place on campus: “The amount of equipment, mentor expertise, and potential for creativity is insane,” she said earlier in a testimonial. “The things I’ve been able to learn through tinkering at the [Maker]space is equal to or even greater than that of any class I’ve taken at UW.”

Tracy’s project was a touch-activated mechatronic hand. Essentially, the project consisted of a wooden hand connected to a series of motors that was able to close into a fist and then reopen at the press of a button. This project was for a mechatronic art class she was enrolled in this quarter and she heavily utilized the MakerSpace’s resources and community to complete this particular assignment. “The other day I came in with one motor and no idea how to make it work,” Tracy recalled. “Within half an hour, five people had stopped by and offered advice…and then I had four donated motors. A mechanical engineer helped me design a mounting bracket. An electrical engineer saved my LEDs by suggesting I use bigger capacitors. An art student gave me advice on how to create a better aesthetic.”

We were very impressed with the wide display of creativity and talent at this Show & Tell. We encourage the UW Community to continue to fully utilize the MakerSpace and the array of resources it has to offer. The MakerSpace is open to individuals of all experience levels and expertise, encouraging students to try even if it risks failure. If anything, Tracy cites failure as one of her greatest motivations: “Making is never a smooth path,” she said. “The MakerSpace is a place where I’m not scared to fail, and that’s exactly how it encourages me to succeed.”