The Brandeis MakerLab is a free space for students on campus interested in technology and innovation. Founded in 2014, it houses the Automation Lab and the Digital Scholarship Lab. In recent years, the MakerLab has undergone a series of changes to its space and offerings.
The Brandeis Hoot spoke to Vincent Calia-Bogan ’25, a student who has been involved with the MakerLab since his first year at Brandeis, to learn more about these changes and the role of the MakerLab on campus.
Calia-Bogan told the Hoot that when he first came to Brandeis, he was disappointed to learn that there was no dedicated space for engineering students to work on projects. However, he soon discovered the MakerLab. The MakerLab offers a wide range of resources for students including 3D printers, laser cutters and electronics prototyping equipment. Calia-Bogan says that the MakerLab has helped him to create a variety of projects, including a replica of Thor’s hammer and a model of the James Webb telescope.
To get a better overall understanding of what the MakerLab is and the opportunities it poses to students, the Hoot asked Calia-Bogan about the background and what their goals are at the MakerLab. He noted that when the MakerLab was founded in 2014, it was just a student and a staff member with no space in the library or any area on campus for this technology. It has expanded into the MakerLab, Automation Lab and Digital Scholarship Lab in such a small amount of time.
What started as a “push cart,” he notes, has been reimagined with immense offerings and opportunities. According to Calia-Bogan, the MakerLab has “three distinct areas: the MakerLab, the Digital Scholarship Lab and the Automation Lab, and each serve a purpose. They are open resources mostly for free or extremely cheap. We have computational resources, 3-D printing resources and there are three full-time staff members that work within the department.”
Calia-Bogan also describes the MakerLab as a space for Brandeis engineers and students who like to make, think and create. According to Vincent, the MakerLab has “banks and banks of 3-D printers. That is where you go for all of your 3-D printing needs. In a typical month, we will 3-D print equipment for the Biology labs and Neuroscience labs here on campus. We will 3-D print and do some other work for the Anthropology and Archeology departments.”
Calia-Bogan describes the MakerLab as a space for everyone. The MakerLab is not only unique, but it has opportunities for everyone on campus. The MakerLab will soon offer (later in the semester) 3-D printing training for students and faculty that don’t exactly know where to start, but want to get involved in this type of innovative technology.
As Calia-Bogan also notes, students can come to the MakerLab for anything. He states that, “Let’s say somebody needs a little box to put in their shower caddy, we’ve had those. We’ve had administrators come in and print some name tags for the front of their desks to flex on other administrators. We have everybody. We’ve had chemistry students come in and 3D print molecule kits so that they don’t have to pay for them.” With the resources at the MakerLab, students can not only learn a new and useful skill, but potentially save money on various necessities.
Moving from the MakerLab, The Digital Scholarship Lab consists of “high performance computers that computer science, mathematics and physics students all use,” says Calia-Bogan. The Digital Scholarship Lab houses a lot of high performance technology where staff and experienced students work with statistical machine learning.
The Automation Lab, according to Calia-Bogan, was “originally designed for electronics prototyping. So we’re talking about soldering, simple circuits and microcontrollers.” The Automation Lab does a lot of work with different departments on campus and is available to all experienced students and faculty.
So what improvements have been made to this department? According to Calia-Bogan, the Automation Lab has undergone the biggest transformation out of the three labs. Calia-Bogan says that the Automation Lab “has moved rooms and is no longer underneath Farber Mezzanine in the library. It is across the way in Goldfarb all the way in the back.” While the lab still has so much to offer in terms of electronics and technology, some of the improvements include: advanced laser cutting, a full stack of ideation through software, hardware and electronics design and improved CNC machines.
While the MakerLab is constantly improving and changing aspects of their technology, it is certainly a hub for all things engineering and innovation focused. Students of all backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged in the MakerLab. To learn more about the MakerLab and what it has to offer to Brandeis, you can follow their Instagram page, their website and check out their in-person labs within the Brandeis library.
Editor’s Note: Staff writer Vincent Calia-Bogan did not participate in the writing or editing of this article.