Training center to boast makerspace along with class, lab

Artist rendering of the new lab space in the workforce training center

Laura Fleming, author of Worlds of Making, said, “If you build it, they will come and if you let them build it, they will learn.” The new workforce training and secondary career center at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville will provide a space for students and volunteers to do just that – build and learn.

The new 15,000 square-foot facility will house a makerspace along with classroom and lab space for career and technical education. “It’s going to be the most exciting space in the building,” said Brian Shonk, vice chancellor for academics.

The makerspace will provide the facilities and equipment for students and volunteers to collaborate and bring creative ideas to life. The space will have large format printers, computers with high-processing capabilities, 3D printers and scanners, electronic components such as small motors and a variety of metal and woodworking tools from hand tools to CNC mills and lathes.

“The idea is if you build it, they will come,” Shonk said. “Not only students but expert volunteers within the community who can guide students and help them develop their ideas into realities. We also see it as a mentorship opportunity for UACCB students. For example, if a project requires something to be welded, a UACCB welding student could provide that service for their fellow students who lack welding training.”

Shonk said the college plans to have elementary, junior high and high schools involved in the makerspace and would like to create a membership opportunity in the future for community members to make use of the space.

Deborah Frazier, chancellor of UACCB, said the makerspace would not only provide space for the development of ideas and designs but would create a pathway for professionals to share real-world business knowledge that can contribute to the success of students taking advantage of the makerspace.

“Our community has many retired skilled professionals. Those professionals will be able to share not only their technical skills and knowledge but also their professional business knowledge such as accounting for expenses, how to develop a business plan and understanding the necessities and challenges of a start-up business venture. By bringing these people together, entrepreneurs will have a better shot at being successful,” she said.