Learn more about SFU’s Media and Maker Commons, a collaborative, hands-on learning environment

Makerspace librarian Mikael Kriz discusses some of the lab’s standout features

Two 3D printers on a worktable, backlit by fluorescent lighting
From high tech to hand tools, MMC can help you create to your heart’s content. PHOTO: Sarah Kushneryk / The Peak

By: Rastko Koprivica, SFU Student

If you’re looking to try 3D printing, video and audio recording, laser cutting and engraving, or machine embroidery, there’s a place on campus that may interest you — the Media and Maker Commons. Located in SFU’s W.A.C. Bennett library, university members from all disciplines can come to learn, create, and discover through the use of both cutting-edge and traditional technologies.

The Media and Maker Commons (MMC) had its grand opening in January 2020. According to Mikael Kriz, makerspace librarian, “The SFU Library developed the space as part of our mission to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and help to prepare students for academic and professional success. When the MMC was developed, a lot of attention was paid to making it as open and friendly as possible to encourage people of all skill levels and backgrounds to come in and use the space and facilities.”

The space has five 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a laser cutter and engraver, various hand tools (including soldering irons and a rotary tool), an embroidery machine, and a sewing machine. It also has audio and visual facilities, such as a video studio with an HD camera, studio lights, and an optional lightboard. You can do anything from making your computerized models come to life as tangible objects to becoming a fashion designer to recording a podcast.

“We have seen some unbelievable projects in our short time working here,” Kriz said. He went on to describe one group who created an automated cat feeder not long after MMC opened. Other examples included topographical maps using the laser cutter and tabletop game pieces made with the 3D printer. 

As for classes offered in the Makerspace, there are a few. TEKX101 (Introduction to 3D Printing and Laser Scanning Technologies) is a quantitative/breadth-science course that makes a good elective if you’re interested in computer aided design. There are also various student groups and clubs that organize workshops in the MMC. Last semester, SFU Surge hosted a 3D printing training event, and SFU Mechanical Keyboards Club held a keyboard cable tutorial.

Looking to get started on your next creative project with the help of the MMC? To do so, you will need to complete a brief safety orientation and training on Canvas to handle Maker Tools. “When you arrive for your first appointment, we have facilitators that will help continue your training with some in-person instruction, so you don’t need any prior experience to use the equipment. Our Audio and Video studios do not require safety training, but we do have basic online training people can opt to use before their appointment,” Kriz noted.  

The audio and video studios can be reserved through the library’s room reservation service,  linked on their website. Kriz adds he “also wanted to stress that [they] really do encourage all current SFU students, faculty, and staff to come to the MMC to learn, explore, and develop new ways of thinking along with creating fantastic products and innovations regardless of your skill level or prior experience. [They] are more than happy to help people learn new technologies or to help facilitate an assignment or project.”