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Makerspace at Homewood Facility Creates Opportunity For Community Involvement

Last week, the University of Pittsburgh celebrated the launch of a new makerspace at its Manufacturing Assistance Center in Homewood with a small ceremony.

The facility will feature tools including a 3D printer and woodworking equipment and host a series of instructional workshops on different “making” techniques.

"The makerspace helps entrepreneurs design products, develop products, prototype products and begin to manufacture them in small batches," said Bopaya Bidanda, chair of the industrial engineering department at Pitt and the center’s director.

Bidanda said that the facility will be open to community residents and give them a chance to use the center’s technology.

The makerspace represents an expansion of services for the center, which moved from Harmarville to Homewood last year. They also offer career-oriented technical education, including an accelerated course in precision machining designed to prepare students for jobs right out of the gate.

"We provide training to people who would otherwise not have a chance in making it in today’s industrial world," said Bidanda. "We’ve taken people who are convicted felons, [or] people who are displaced workers late into their fifties, and in fifteen weeks of training, we can give them a career for life."

Moving forward, Bidanda said engineering students at Pitt will help run the makerspace at the center on a day to day basis.

“This is one way that they can give back to the community. So we have multiple student organizations that are volunteering to go in and run the space," said Bidanda.