The Make Space of Centre County promotes self-sufficiency and creativity

10/04/2022

By Stephanie Kalina-Metzger

A Make Space member uses a table saw for a project. Photo: The Make Space of Centre County.

As technology advances, creative individuals can, too — that is, if they’re provided with the resources to take their ideas from concept to reality. That’s the thought behind The Make Space of Centre County.

The organization began when founding member John Stitzinger picked up a 3-D printer at a convention out of curiosity. Eventually, that printer was used to print pieces for another printer and the plans were uploaded to a Wiki page so that others could collaborate to make the second incarnation of the original printer even more efficient. Now, other projects that have been created in The Make Space over the years include key chains, toys, pieces for drones, weathervanes and even a Tesla coil.

“Operating in Happy Valley gives us many valuable opportunities and puts us into contact with the most diverse and ambitious individuals in Pennsylvania who are just starting their research, studies and careers.”

Approximately 11 years have passed since its inception and The Make Space continues to evolve, attracting engineers, designers and tinkerers of various abilities and backgrounds, who can use the equipment for a small monthly charge.

“It’s also a great option for people who live in apartments and lack the space to work on larger projects,” said Jason Gallaway, who serves on the nonprofit’s board.

“A university the size of Penn State creates an environment that produces many unique, fresh and creative ideas and projects from our members, who themselves are a mixture of students, staff and residents of the community around Happy Valley. Giving people an outlet for their innovation and personal expression through making and creating is very rewarding.”

The nuts and bolts

The Make Space, which describes itself as a community workshop, is comprised of two large rooms spanning 1,000 square feet where creatives can get together and bring their ideas to life. The front room contains electronics, with computers, 3D printers, laser cutters, engravers and a soldering section. Room number two is the construction zone containing the woodshop, where visitors can work with table saws, a lathe, a miter saw and other woodworking tools.

According to Gallaway, the overarching goal is to promote self-sufficiency. We promote the idea that people aren’t required to just buy what the industry puts in front of them,” he said, citing instances where people can print what they need for repairing, or improving items.

A community member gets her gears tuned and ready for a season of bike riding. Photo: The Make Space of Centre County.

Creators weigh in

Karl Raynar has been using The Make Space since 2019. “They hosted an open house and were laser-cutting Christmas ornaments out of cardboard. My wife was very taken by it and then I got interested in it too,” said Raynar, who makes use of the laser cutter on site to make weathervanes. “So far I’ve created vanes in the likeness of my wife on a horse when she was younger, an angel and a family symbol, which is a fish and an anchor,” he said.

“State College is a really nice town, which has a lot going on and is always pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation, trying to be on the cutting edge."

Vidur Ramlall is also a frequent visitor, having used the shop since 2012. He makes decorative boxes, keychains for events on Penn State’s campus, computer parts, robot parts and more.

“It gives me the space to do all kinds of things,” he said, also mentioning the Make Space’s CNC machine, which processes a piece of material to meet specifications by following coded programmed instructions. “I used that to make a Tesla coil,” he said.

Ramlall’s made his home in State College because of places like The Make Space. “State College is a really nice town, which has a lot going on and is always pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation, trying to be on the cutting edge,” he said.

Gallaway agreed that The Make Space is an excellent place for creative minds to gather. “Operating in Happy Valley gives us many valuable opportunities and puts us into contact with the most diverse and ambitious individuals in Pennsylvania who are just starting their research, studies and careers.”

Gallaway added that being in a college town community naturally fosters a creative environment.

We promote the idea that people aren’t required to just buy what the industry puts in front of them."

A university the size of Penn State creates an environment that produces many unique, fresh and creative ideas and projects from our members, who themselves are a mixture of students, staff and residents of the community around Happy Valley. Giving people an outlet for their innovation and personal expression through making and creating is very rewarding,” he said.

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