Stories @ TCAT

May 16, 2024                                                                                                                            

Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville Launches New Makerspace

The ‘Maker City’ is Getting a New Makerspace!

TCAT Knoxville students, staff and other supporting stakeholders from the broader Knoxville community will join together at the Division Street Campus to celebrate this landmark occasion with an official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony! Guests will have the opportunity to preview the makerspace and interact with the tools and technologies, including 3D printers, laser cutters, a heat press and robotics before its public debut in conjunction with Remake Learning Days Knoxville, a free learning festival for families and youth that has taken place on the campuses of TCAT Knoxville for the past 4 years. A makerspace is a physical space that provides shared access to tools, equipment, technologies, and materials for individuals to prototype their ideas, solutions and products. Makerspaces are also places where community members can go to learn new skills and collaborate on projects. This summer, the makerspace will feature programming and activities for TCAT students, faculty and staff and will collaborate with local organizations to serve K-12 students.

A design team composed of diverse thought leaders from the broader Knoxville community contributed their expertise and ideas to the development of the makerspace. TCAT Knoxville student and design team member, Daisy Payne shares, “I’m excited about how students have been an active part of the makerspace design process and how the makerspace will be a place where we can come together as a community to design, make and create things, including solutions to challenges and problems we care about.”

In addition, TCAT Knoxville hosted a workshop last October to gather and hear from community leaders about how they might work together to develop tangible ideas and actionable steps to design a makerspace, develop programming and create a culture and environment that prioritizes accessibility and inclusion. Workshop participants included representatives from four area school districts, Arconic Foundation, The Maker City and Blount Partnership. Courtney Hendricks, Chief Operating Officer for Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and former Director of Maker Initiatives at The Maker City notes, “The TCAT Knoxville makerspace will be a wonderful addition to Knoxville's vibrant maker ecosystem, creating a great space where individuals can explore and develop their business ideas.”

The development of the new makerspace has been part of a larger ongoing collaboration between TCAT Knoxville and the non-profit organization, MakerUSA, to explore how the college could further support inclusive maker-centered learning in Knoxville and surrounding communities.

TCAT Knoxville President Kelli Chaney notes, “We are committed to finding more ways for Knoxville area students to explore career pathways that they are interested in and experience them firsthand. This new space will truly enable more of these opportunities.”

The growing need for inclusive spaces where students can engage in hands-on, interdisciplinary learning can also be seen across the state. Ben DiChiara, Relationship Manager for the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network describes, “Makerspaces like this one are critical to creating learning environments and school cultures that foster creativity, 21st century skills and a life-long love of learning.”

This effort has been generously supported by Arconic Foundation, which supports communities by enhancing education through skill-building learning experiences and advancing social equity. Christy Newman, local Arconic Foundation Ambassador and Community Relations Manager for Arconic Tennessee Operations shares, “This new makerspace will create engaging opportunities for TCAT Knoxville students, K-12 students and members of the broader Knoxville community to come together to learn new skills, collaborate on projects and explore the many different careers in STEM and manufacturing.”

Following its launch, the TCAT Knoxville makerspace will pilot, explore, and implement programming that seeks to provide exciting and unique learning opportunities and certification programs for TCAT Knoxville students, local K-12 students, educators, and members of the broader Knoxville community, including justice involved individuals and veterans. The makerspace will be open to visitors as part of the Remake Learning Days programming taking place on the TCAT Knoxville’s campus tomorrow, May 17th.

This is a larger effort by TCAT Knoxville to understand how the technical college can increase access to inclusive maker-centered learning in collaboration with the non-profit organization, MakerUSA. The goal is to support local career pathways into maker industries and entrepreneurship.


About the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville

TCAT Knoxville is one of 24 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The Colleges of Applied Technology are the state’s premier providers of career and technical training for Tennesseans to obtain the technical skills and professional training necessary for advancement in today’s job market. Objectives of the programs offered by the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology include:

Giving students the opportunity to acquire marketable skills for entry into the labor market and upgrade the skills and knowledge of persons already employed for career advancement.
Incorporating appropriate work attitudes and habits into the occupational program.
Meeting the present and anticipated needs of business and industrial.
Meeting student needs by utilizing open-entry enrollment.
Enabling students to begin on an individual level. Pace and progress will be measured against the curriculum's customary hours, and students will exit when specified competencies are met. Instructional methods are individualized, and competency based.

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About MakerUSA

MakerUSA’s mission is to accelerate social mobility and community-driven innovation by expanding pathways for underserved students into maker careers and entrepreneurship.

MakerUSA’s model is built on community agency and the process begins when prospective

Innovation Sites submit a letter of interest (LOI). Pending a financial sponsor for the Innovation Site, MakerUSA then locally recruits, embeds and continually trains and supports full-time Program Managers (PMs) on 12-18 month, renewable contracts. Meanwhile, through the Learning Network, MakerUSA engages over 30 leading institutions and organizations in shared learning, discussion and collaboration. MakerUSA currently has 49 pending Innovation Sites across 25 states.

For more information please visit: