With a budget of approximately 11.5 million dollars, the NJIT Makerspace continues to make progress in renovating the facility for student use.
Despite opening its doors to the public last December 2017, the Makerspace is still under construction. NJIT President, Joel S. Bloom, claims that makerspaces offer significant educational, research, and economic development tools with NJIT’s being the largest in the State of New Jersey. The State of New Jersey had a hand in funding the project in July of 2017, for 10 million dollars with 1.5 million paid out of pocket by NJIT.
Despite being an opportunity to offer workspace and equipment to outside entities, the Makerspace belongs to the NJIT community and its students. Daniel Barteris, Director of Experiential Learning, said that the long-term goal was for “students to be here on their own, working on their projects.”
In order for the facility to seamlessly function, there needs to be professors overseeing students beyond the traditional class setting. This would require hiring new university staff members as well as the students being briefed on lab safety, though there is not a definitive action put into place now.
Select student organizations such as Baja racing and senior capstones are actively using the space to further their research, but other students are looking forward to what else the Makerspace has to offer. Vidhiben Shah, a third year Bio-Medical Engineering major said, “It’ll be good for your resume when you say that you can use such equipment.” Vidhiben says she would be interested in seeing biomedical machinery that befits the needs of medical research fields.
Not all NJIT students are as excited about the Makerspace as others. Sarah Garcon, a third year Mechanical Engineering major, said, “I think the money could have gone to more useful things like the equipment we use in the labs and other things we use from day to day. Some equipment hasn’t been updated/changed in years.”
Ibrahim Oshun, a fourth year Chemical Engineering major, says that with or without the recent campus innovations, “work is still work” and that incoming freshman and those who follow may have an easier time.
When asked what the Marketspace would prioritize, between students and outside corporate interests, Barteris said, “We don’t want outside corporations to take priority over students.”
The grand opening of the NJIT Makerspace is planned to take place in the Fall 2018 semester, but the date is tentative.