by Jeffrey Mu ’24
Walking past the center quad, one can always expect to find an illuminating glow off the bottom of Carney. Whether it be in the early mornings before students arrive or late at night after students have left, the Bellarmine Maker’s Lab seems perpetually open for students. But what really goes on behind those sets of doors, and how does the Maker Lab work?
This week, we talked to students and teachers in Bellarmine’s Maker Lab and learned about how the Lab works, as well as some upcoming events to look forward to!
Jan Bawol ‘23
Q. What is the Maker Lab?
A. The Maker Lab is a space for students to work on personal projects, as well as community-based projects for other departments of the school. The Lab doesn’t really identify as a traditional club, but more of an open community for anyone to join. It’s regulated by a few teachers and there is also a Student Leadership Team that organizes activities, leads projects, and helps maintain the Lab.
Q. What do students usually do in the Maker Lab?
A. We mostly work on personal projects and tasks from the Job Board.
Q. What is the Job Board?
A. It’s essentially a bulletin where teachers and faculty members ask us for creative solutions for a project they may have. If you sign up for something, we will teach you how to use the tools needed and skills necessary. It is a great way to learn how to use some of the tools in the Lab and get started on your Maker Lab journey!
Q. What other projects to do guys work on?
A. We have a variety of projects going on at any given time, ranging in magnitude and complexity. For example, we’re currently building a telescope, printing t-shirts, and constructing one pound combat robots.
Q. What is the initial training process for new members who want to get started?
A. At the beginning of the year, all members were onboarded and given an overview of the Lab. They are then free to request training sessions on the machines from student leaders. After that, you’re free to use any machine as long as you are trained on it and have supervision.
Q. How does the leadership team organize projects?
A. At the beginning of each year, we add on a few new leaders to help us run the lab and such. We have weekly Friday meetings where leaders give updates and plan events for the following week. The activities range from 3D-printer training sessions to jewelry-making classes and are open for anyone to participate in. Each week’s activities are outlined in our weekly “Maker Memo” email that gets sent out to members.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
A. If you’re interested in starting your own project, stop by during Community Time or after school and learn how to become a member. Also, make sure to follow us on Instagram, @bcpmakerlab.
Left: Trevor Sosa ’24 working on his Battlebot
Right: Jan Bawol ’23 and Ben Muetzenberg ’24 making jewelry for staff
Next, we talked to David Le ’23 about the Battlebots competition that the Maker Lab is planning on hosting.
Q. When and where is the Battlebots competition?
A. It’s on March 3rd during Community Time, right outside the Maker Lab.
Q. How does the Battlebots competition work?
A. It’s based on the TV show “Battlebots,” where professionals build and run a 200kg robot that fights other robots essentially till they’re broken or 3 minutes run out, at which time a panel of judges will tell the winner. Our competition is scaled down quite a bit but it still works in a similar way, and we pit our robots in the semi bulletproof glass just outside the robotics lab. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
Q. How are you guys going to prepare for the competition?
A. Since this is our first Battlebots tournament, we are working our hardest on building and experimenting with different prototypes of our robots. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, we get to work with metal blades, armor, pieces of plastic, even explosions – I myself am really looking forward to seeing how my robot is going to work in the arena.
Q. How does your robot work?
A. My robot was entirely meant to be funny, but it actually works which is really cool. It has two excessively large wheels that go forward and turn which help to give it traction, and the undercutter here will be metal in the actual arena, so it swings back and forth, potentially causing a lot of damage to the other robots. This one is actually the 7th prototype, the best of its kind that I came up.
Q. Cool! And is this the one you are planning to use in the competition?
A. Yes it is!
Left: David Le’s Battlebot
Last, we talked to Mr. Dutton, who is one of the three faculty members that oversee the Maker’s Lab and is in charge of the upcoming Maker’s Faire.
Q. When and where is the Maker Faire?
A. It’s on the 14th of April, and it’s going to be hosted by the Bellarmine Maker Lab.
Q. What is Maker Faire about?
A. It’s a creative event for all makers to come and join us to show what they can do. We are running our own Maker Faire here and showing some of the stuff that we’ve generated; we also plan on organizing some other activities for all Makers to engage in.
Q. Any interesting projects that you guys have designed for it so far?
A. We’re planning on showing our telescope build as well as our eMotion bicycles that charge batteries when pedaled. Other than that, we have a few other projects that we are working on and we are looking forward to showcasing our work!
Left: Improved chess table and assorted Bellarmine 3D prints
Right: Senior Engineering Project: Nametags
So there you have it folks! Including the Battlebots competition being hosted during community time on the 3rd and the Maker’s Faire on the 14th of April, you can look forward to some new and exciting events from Bell’s very own Maker’s Lab. And if you want to check it out for yourself, head on down to the bottom of Carney to dive into your very own maker lab experience!