29°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Hidden Gems: MakerSpace Lab

A hidden gem on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, that most people I have spoken to have no knowledge of, is the MakerSpace lab. The MakerSpace lab is a 3D-printing and virtual-reality lab that has been open for almost two years. Located in Room 34, on the third floor of the Science Center, the MakerSpace lab is open Monday through Friday, at restricted hours which vary. However, soon, the lab will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..
The opening and daily operations of the lab wouldn’t have been possible without sponsorship and contributions from the Information Technology (IT) department, the Computer Science (CS) department, the School for the Environment (SFE), and the engineering department. The lab is staffed by student employees and volunteers, who are there to assist students with operating machinery and learning about the services the lab offers.
The overall goals of the MakerSpace lab consist of several different objectives. First, the MakerSpace lab is available for students to come and make 3D objects as they wish. Second, you don’t need a technical or design background; many members of the UMass Boston student body come to the lab to take advantage of its services. Some popular disciplines in which the MakerSpace lab is a great asset to include engineering, art, and English, as well as many others. The lab is open to all and everyone is encouraged to come and take part in the lab’s services.
You may be asking yourself, “Why should I go to the MakerSpace?” Well, there are quite a few reasons. The best reason would be that anything you want to build and print is free. Another great reason is that you can print things either for fun, for a hobby, or for a class. The MakerSpace lab can print anything ranging from Pokémon figures and cell-phone cases to remote controls. One example of a project was the 3D-printing of accessories for an internship a student had at a fashion company. Let’s say you want to start a business to sell a product you want to create, you can design and print a prototype in the MakerSpace lab.
MakerSpace lab also has a virtual-reality (VR) simulator, overseen by Craig Yu. The VR simulator is made up of an HD TV, an HTC Vive, and the Oculus system, providing a VR headset and controllers to operate the simulator. You can do an abundance of things with the VR simulator.
One interesting VR application is Google Earth because not only can you see pictures of the earth, as you can in the desktop version of Google Earth, but you can enter street mode and walk in the area of your choice, as if you’re there in real life. In addition, there are other games and applications. Longbow is a game where you can play as an archer, defending a castle with a virtual bow and arrow. Plus, you can even take the place of a scuba diver and explore deep in the ocean. But it doesn’t stop there! If you come across a game or application that you would like to play on the VR machine, contact Yu and put in a request to have the game downloaded. Funding will be requested to get the game or application up and running. There have even been students who have created their own games. One game created by a student would be Reflex, which is a mock Xbox Connect Reflex Ridge game. Many of the student-created games have been showcased in the past at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, including iVenture.
In charge of the MakerSpace lab is John Mazzarella, Manager of Training, Communications, and Marketing in the IT department. Mazzarella was a UMass Boston student starting in 2002.
Working with Mazzarella are members from the IT department, including Apurva Mehta, Michelle McIntyre, and Linda Sudlesky, as well as Yu, who oversees the virtual reality program, and Helen Mary Hotz, who is from the SFE. The daily operations of the lab are held up by several student employees.  
The MakerSpace lab is hosting “MakerFest” on Oct. 9 on the first floor of the Campus Center.