Whether you’re looking to prototype a new product, make a handmade gift, or add the finishing touches to a cool project, Carolina’s executive spaces have just what you need.
Our four makerspaces—located in Murray Hall, Carmichael Residence Hall, Hanes Art Center, and Kenan Science Library—make up the university’s Be a Maker Network and provide students with a space to design and create physical objects for education, research, and recreation.
While the wood shop, 3D printers and laser cutters can bring ideas to life, student workers play a critical role in keeping the Tar Heels in production.
Kishan Babuji, a senior studying computer science and statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, is among the nearly 50 students who work alongside full-time staff to support the creators’ work every day.
Babuji, who has been using makerspaces for three years and has been working at spaces since 2020, shared his experience as a BeAM student.
What is your role in the creators of Carolina?
I originally wanted to work in a makerspace because I was heavily involved in my high school and I really enjoyed it. Among all the other on-campus student employment opportunities, BeAM stood out to me because the facilities were very well equipped and it was an area in which I already had experience.
I started as a program assistant, helping patrons come to BeAM and running training sessions, but then joined the education team as an education specialist. In addition to my duties as a program assistant, I helped design and create training sessions for various tools and machines at Sakai. The education team is also responsible for creating quick tool guides. This semester I also lead a “laser cutter community of practice” where I lead new hires through a six-week program to help them become more familiar with laser cutters.
How critical are student workers to creators?
I think students are an important part of the craftspeople because we do important day-to-day tasks like maintaining equipment, helping customers, and providing tool training. Since all students are also passionate creators, we help develop new training tools and provide feedback on various aspects of being a creator.
That being said, BeAM’s full-time professional staff plays a huge role in making BeAM the amazing space it’s known for. They have been wonderful mentors to us and have set the standard for BeAM as a safe and innovative space.
What is the best part of being and working in makerspaces?
The best part of working at a makerspace is the other student employees who work there. Everyone brings a positive attitude and is always ready to help each other. I feel like we’ve built a solid community of employees and that definitely makes work more enjoyable.
A highlight of my role was helping to create tool training sessions. Creating comprehensive training is a challenge that allowed me to grow a lot as I figured out ways to make information easier for visitors to digest, while still ensuring they learned all the information they needed. There is also a lot of freedom in how I create the workouts, which also allows me to be creative.
How has your position at makerspaces helped you develop skills you can use after college?
Working at a makerspace definitely helped prepare me for my future career by teaching me how to communicate, be responsible, and take ownership of my tasks. The full-time staff also helped me professionally with my resume and introduced me to key contacts.
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