There’s a place at Saint Mary’s where safety goggles are often a necessity, and getting your hands dirty is encouraged.
Housed in Aquinas Hall, the Anthony B’59 and Sandra Adducci Family Makerspace serves as a collaborative workspace equipped with 3D printers, woodworking tools, sewing machines, and more for students to express their creative, innovative ideas, and entrepreneurial interests.
“In the Makerspace, we really like to emphasize that students can come in and get their hands dirty,” said Kacey Davitt, the Makerspace coordinator.
Unlike labs that are tied to a specific class, all students are able to use the Makerspace.
“We really like to focus on the interdisciplinary opportunities in the space,” Davitt said. “We’re not connected to a specific department. We really want to get all kinds of different students in there and focus on the co-curricular aspects of their education.”
From stained glass projects to Halloween costumes, Davitt has said she has seen a number of unique items come to life inside the Makerspace. However, one of the more unique projects to come out of the Makerspace is a successful micro business started by recent graduates Delaney Calabrese B’22 and Jordan Modjeski B’22.
Calabrese and Modjeski, both members of the women’s hockey team this past year, began 3D printing Saint Mary’s keychains as a fundraiser to help purchase a T-shirt gun that could be used at women’s hockey games. The idea and design for the product came from a one-of-a-kind Saint Mary’s Cardinals keychain that Calabrese’s friend had printed for her.
“People always asked me ‘Oh, did you get that in the bookstore? Where can I get one?’ and I had to tell them that it was a one-off my friend had made for me,” she said. “Once we had access to the 3D printers, we purchased our own material and started printing them for people we knew.”
Word spread about the keychains, and eventually, so did the demand for them. After selling the items to their peers, Calabrese and Modjeski were approached by the university’s admissions office, which began handing out the keychains to prospective students. According to Calabrese, the popularity and demand for the keychains spread mostly through word of mouth.
“Once people got their keychains, they would put them on their keys and their backpacks, and they would also post photos of the keychains to social media,” she said. “We didn’t even have to reach out to people. They were reaching out to us and being like, ‘Hey, I’d love to buy one of your keychains. When can I get one from you?’ ”
Over the course of the business, the two printed between 900 and 1,000 keychains.
While operating the microbusiness from the Makerspace, Calabrese had the opportunity to watch the skills she had acquired as a business and data analytics, international business, and marketing major come to life.
“When we were running the business, we needed to make all kinds of decisions, and using what we learned in the classroom helped us make better decisions,” she said.
For Davitt, seeing students learn and grow is the purpose of Makerspace. Not all of that learning, she said, is tied to the classroom.
“At a university, you know a lot of our students probably already know calculus,” she said. “But if you hand them a screwdriver, they may not know whether it’s a flathead or Phillips. So having the Makerspace gives them exposure to tools and items they may not be familiar with in a hands-on, tactile way.”
To Davitt, the Makerspace is now an additional part of what makes the Saint Mary’s experience so unique to its students.
“I think it’s really beneficial for students to get out of the traditional classroom,” she said. “We really want the Makerspace to be an extra resource for our students.”
Calabrese agrees with Davitt and urges every student at Saint Mary’s to take advantage of the hands-on campus resource.
“Outside of using it for academic purposes, it can be a great place to be creative, try new things, and have access to tools you wouldn’t normally be able to use like a laser engraver or 3D printer,” she said. “On top of that, the staff in the Makerspace is amazing. They’re always available and willing to help you with whatever you’re working on, which makes the space even more amazing.”