Islander I-Create MakerSpace: A Place for Infinite Creativity

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From multi-dimensional models of microscopic animals, to podcasts, to laser-cut pottery stamps, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s I-Create MakerSpace brings limitless imagination and innovation to life. I-Create gives Islanders and the community access to a wide variety of machines and technology like 3D printers, virtual reality, embroidery machines, and much more. 

“Getting this space up and running has been a lot of hard work,” said Sylvia Sanchez, I-Create Makerspace Coordinator, “but when you get to see students create something incredible or see that they’re enjoying the space – it’s fulfilling. There’s a sense of achievement in providing these resources and opportunities to our community.”

Since opening in January, the makerspace, located on the second floor of the Mary and Jeff Bell Library, has hosted more than 1,200 individual visitors who have completed more than 250 3D print jobs, around 60 large-format print jobs, and dozens of other unique projects. Sanchez says the most popular machines have been the 3D printers and the laser cutter, along with the Drawing Machine created by Professor Lars Roeder, Visiting Associate Professor of Art.

According to Sanchez, the makerspace has quite a few “super-users” who visit regularly. One super-user is Kia Thomas, a biomedical sciences senior with a health professional focus on pre-veterinary studies. Thomas visits I-Create at least three times a week, or more, if she has extra time in-between her studies.

“At the beginning of the semester, I learned about I-Create through a study group,” said Thomas. “In the past, I remember the space being just for computers and laptops, so I was blown away that they remade it and added so many cool things.”

Using the space, Thomas has created plushies, costumes, and is currently building a fully moveable 3D printed dragon.

“This is a great place to relax and be yourself. One day I was there from nine in the morning to five in the evening,” said Thomas. “Everyone is super friendly, inviting, and willing to learn from you. It’s a place to teach and gain new skills. I really love the space and hope others can find it special for them, too.”

Islander students have also utilized the makerspace’s resources to print out research posters for conferences, 3D print unmanned aerial vehicle parts, practice still photography, create videos, and engrave designs. Professors have taken an interest in the space as well. One nursing class used the virtual reality technology to give students the opportunity to see the finer details of human anatomy while print-making students utilized the laser cutter to create stamps that are used to embellish pottery, posters, and t-shirts.

Dr. Melissa Rohal, Islander alumna `18 and Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI), learned about I-Create from a fellow HRI staff member. In preparation for Earth Day Bay Day in April, Rohal printed 3D models of microscopic creatures belonging to five different taxonomic groups to introduce people to a world unseen by the human eye. One of the animals printed was a new species Rohal discovered during her graduate studies at Florida State University. The new species, Condyloderes rohalorum, was named after her family.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to have these resources, especially when trying to prepare outreach materials,” said Rohal. “I wanted to come up with a way to share my research with the public, but not everyone is able to use a microscope.”

Not only have Islander students, faculty, and staff benefitted from the space, but community members have as well. An area church recently made a promotional sign and several local ladies have used the sewing and embroidery machines. One community member is even designing a fishing reel using a CNC router – which is a computer-controlled cutting machine.

In addition, I-Create has acted as host site for events throughout the semester such as a 48-hour multidisciplinary contest, Invent for the Planet, community workshops, and a robotics workshop for local middle school students.

“The possibilities for creativity in the I-Create Lab are endless,” said Sanchez. “We look forward to adding more equipment such as additional 3D printers and video and audio recording equipment. Our ultimate goal is to create a cooperative space where students can teach each other new, cool, and interesting skills.”

Additional Information

The I-Create MakerSpace is free to use, though there is a nominal charge for supplies. Users are welcome to bring their own materials. The space is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.