Ryan Kowtecky is hard at work designing a replica gun from the game Destiny. Photo credit: Keenan Smith-Soro

Algonquin’s DARE district has introduced a place where students have access to a virtual reality system, 3D printers, robotics equipment and student inventions.

The coordinator of Algonquin’s Applied Research and Innovation office and the lead of the maker space, Matthew Jerabek, sees the new creative area as a place to build a new community at the college.

“The maker space is a place for everyone at the college; it can include external communities and faculty as well,” said Jerabek. There is a sign-up sheet at the space where people can book time in the space whether they go to the college or not.

Despite the openness of the space, there are still obstacles to be conquered.

“It has a very low budget, there is only so much equipment buying we can do,” said Jerabek. “Because of the lack of budget for equipment purchases we’ve had incredible donations. An entire virtual reality set-up including the desktop, and all of the 3D printers, were donated as well.”

Despite the lack of budget, however, there is still a drive to create and continue building a community.

Davis Nyguen, a second-year mechanical and electrical engineering student, is among those who work at the maker space as a robotics technician.

“What I do is set up 3D printers but I also do design,” said Nyguen. “As far as fun projects go, it’s practically infinite. Let’s say you’d like to make something — you can actually use this place as a hub and potentially get access to other labs in the city.”

To showcase their technological prowess, there is a display table at the space with a wide variety of different creations that students have made. There is a life-sized replica of a Halo ODST helmet from the video game that was crafted by Ryan Kowtechy, as well as a plant pot designed as Groot from Guardians of The Galaxy.

First-year architectural technology student Sophie Lecours has also taken advantage of the space.

“A couple of weeks ago I found out about the maker space,” said Lecours. She used the 3D printer to develop a staircase for one of her assignments.

“I just wanted to try this method. I could have done it by hand with a foam board, but I wasn’t really interested in that.”

The maker space still relies on word of mouth. But, Jerabek was very clear in both his vision and message to the college — that everyone should be aware of its existence.

“It’s really important that the college understands this about the maker space, which is that I want it to be the sort of seed of an idea. So it can grow into something beyond what we are capable of in this room.”