Creating and Maintaining Safe and Productive Makerspaces that Matter to Students

This course is a small investment for participants who want to know how to obtain measureable and justifiable impact from large investments (tens of thousands to millions of dollars) their university will spend to create a makerspaces. This course will help you understand how to invest money, space, and other resources to obtain the results that you want. The course provides knowledge, and covers best practices, that have been used to design, create/upgrade and sustain safe and productive modern academic makerspaces.

We cover proven methods to get students excited about using these spaces, forming peer-mentoring communities within these spaces and perpetuating a culture of safe, fun and responsible use. We'll also cover fundamental principles of makerspaces that are necessary to success - understanding the general types and their pros/cons, the import of culture and community, assessing impact/justification, training models, common maker equipment, optimizing access while minimizing boundaries, creating effective safety systems, and understanding the relationship between safety and complimentary policy, insurance, legal, and regulatory issues.

Lead Instructor(s): 

Martin Culpepper


TBD 2017

Course Length: 

3 Days

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

Participant Takeaways: 

This course will cover the fundamental principles of successful makerspaces:

  • Understanding the general types and their pros/cons
  • The import of culture and community
  • Assessing impact/justification
  • Staffing and training models
  • Common maker equipment
  • Optimizing access while minimizing boundaries
  • Creating effective safety systems
  • Understanding safety and complimentary policy, insurance, legal and regulatory issues

Who Should Attend: 

This course is designed for anyone working to create or maintain makerspace in an academic setting. Approximately 80% of course topics are applicable to general makerspaces (e.g. company, community, high school, etc.) and so this class will be useful for areas outside of universities/colleges as well.

Program Outline: 

Each day will consist of morning classroom sessions, followed by afternoon sessions in which the participants will work in groups to practice implementing the material. Depending on participant interest, activities may include: student surveys/data gathering, policy documents, access plans, programming (hobby use, personal use, class/research use, entrepreneurial, etc.), safety and training plans, machine selection, or facility layout/design. We will cover examples of successful makerspaces from several universities and participants will tour a variety of MIT's 40+ makerspaces (engineering, science, dorm-based, artistic, student teams, classroom, etc.).

March 21, 2016

  • Morning: Examples and types of makerspaces, boundaries/access, community/culture, safety/legal/regulatory issues, programming
  • Afternoon: Tours of four makerspaces, safety plan activity, Q&A

March 22, 2016

  • Morning: Navigating campus politics, data and metrics, equipment selection, space design/layout, staffing
  • Afternoon: Tours of four makerspaces, space design/layout activity, Q&A

March 23, 2016

  • Morning: Space design/layout activity (continued), Q&A

Course Schedule: 

View 2016 schedule (pdf)

This course meets 10:00 am - 4:30 on Monday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm on Tuesday, and 9:30 am - 1:30 pm on Wednesday.

Computers or tablets with the ability to run Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel (or equivalents) are required for this course.



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (35%) 35
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (65%) 65

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (30%) 30
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (35%) 35
Tours: Visits to MIT makerspaces (35%) 35




Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (90%) 90
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (10%) 10