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Maker Lab

Maker Lab Policies

This reference documents many of the general policies used to manage the Maker Lab (ML) program.

The Maker Lab is run as part of the Schools Maker/Innovation Interdisciplinary Program. One or more ML Staff members and Affiliated Faculty members assist the ML Director with the management of the ML facilities and programs. Several Teaching Assistants (TAs) are also employed to staff the lab, assist Lab users, maintain equipment, etc. Volunteer "ML Coaches" also assist with running the lab primarily in terms of assisting Lab users, typically while ML TAs and/or Staff are managing use of the Lab; Senior ML Coaches are authorized to host a limited number of Lab open hours.

There are two ML locations. The SCDI location is the primary site for student use; as a premier facility, it is also used to host events, tours, etc. This site has hand/power tools, 3D printers, laser cutters, planar CNC machines, soldering stations, and selected specialty tools.  This Lab is routinely staffed, open to the SCU community with posted open hours, training sessions, etc. This site has a "teaching" section that allows for classes to hold lectures/labs in the Lab when close proximity to ML tools is desired; however, general use of the Lab is still permitted during such activities. On occasion, and at the approval of the ML Director, the Lab may be reserved exclusively for significant special events. 
The secondary site is in "The Garage" at 3305 Alameda. This is a smaller, more industrial location that is used primarily to support research work and activities with industry partners. This site has all of the main tools housed in the SCDI lab plus a few specialty machines such as a water jet, etc. Use of this lab is coordinated through ML staff, and it is typically not open for general use. Given the approval of the ML Director, the Lab may be reserved for special events, classes, and labs; exclusive use is permitted given the availability of the SCDI location as well as the fact that the size of this Lab makes concurrent Lab use difficult.
ML open hours for the SCDI Lab are posted on the ML Camino site. During the Fall, Winter and Spring academic year quarters, the Lab is open for general use ~35-40 hours or more each week. The Lab may also be used for other activities such as specialty classes, events, etc.  During academic breaks and the Summer quarter, open hours are limited and posted on the ML Camino site. Special requests for open hours or other use should be made to the ML Director.
General use of the maker lab and its tools requires completion of the BASIC TRAINING module (which provides a lab orientation, general management and safety policies, and the use of basic tools) as well as any specific training modules for the tools/machines to be used (3D printers, laser cutters, power tools, etc.). The Lab offers routine training sessions which are posted on the Lab's Camino site. Additional training sessions for courses, groups, etc may be arranged by request.
Single session use of the lab for a structured activity (e.g., for a single class/lab, a hands-on event, etc.) may not require normal training since such use is not considered general use; for such activities, an appropriate lab introduction and safety discussion is required given the tasks to be performed in the lab. Participation in a tour does not require training.
Use of the Lab as a required part of courses should be coordinated with the ML Director and Staff prior to the start of the course. Depending on the extent of such use (# student hours, tools/equipment used, material needs, timing, etc.) a discussion on how to support such requests is typically required. Examples of such considerations include the following:
  • For extensive in-Lab lectures/labs/exercises that involve hands-on work and tool use, course TAs (as opposed to the ML TAs) are typically required to provide supervision of such activities; this means that the course TAs need to have appropriate ML skills and supervisory capabilities, typically equivalent to that required for a ML Coach designation. It is noted that this means such class TAs should have significant ML experience PRIOR TO the quarter of the class that they are supervising. 
  • Courses may not require use of the entire Lab. In general, the Lab may still be open for general use. On occasion, with the approval of the ML Director), certain tools/machines may be designated as having priority use for students in the course.
  • Extensive use may also require that the course (e.g., the departments running the courses) provide funds to cover use of 3D printer materials if they are used. Additional materials to be provided to students must typically be coordinated and acquired by the class TAs.
  • For a course requiring Lab open hours beyond those routinely scheduled, it may be possible to accommodate those requests if made far enough in advance. Another option, however, is for a course TA (not an ML TA) with Senior Coach status (graduate student standing) to run a limited set of open hours sessions. Timing can be a function of the needs of the course; however, these times will be posted as open hours for the general community as well.
  • Course materials may not be left in the Maker Lab outside of class hours. For courses that require significant auxiliary equipment/materials, instructors are encouraged to use carts for transporting such items into/out of the Lab. 
  • For single session activities that can bypass the completion of standard training modules, the level of orientation and training given the activities planned and tools to be used should be reviewed with ML Staff.
The ML is available for significant special events, receptions, etc. Requests for such use should be explored and arranged with the ML Director.
The ML is not available to support general meetings of student clubs, groups, etc. if these events do not require lab support. There is ample room and many meeting spaces, both formal and informal, on campus to support such activities.
Members of the SCU community are welcome to use the ML when it is open with an appropriate ML supervisor. Such work may include access to the ML space, use of open work tables, and use of tools/equipment for which they have been trained.
All work must be cleaned up prior to leaving each day; overnight/multi-day use of Lab spaces is not permitted. Users are encouraged to use carts or other portable set-ups in order to transport any significant materials, equipment and/or project assemblies into and out of the Lab on a daily basis. Similarly, equipment and/or assemblies specific to courses that leverage the use of the ML are not to be housed in the Lab.
While use of the lab for personal projects is encouraged, there may be restrictions on such use during critical times of the academic year when demand is high for using ML equipment to support class, capstone, and research projects. This is particularly true for 3D printer use near the end of a quarter as well as the weeks leading up to the Senior Capstone Conference (early May).
A "buddy system" safety policy is implemented given the requirement for use only when a member of the ML Management Team is available to supervise Lab activities. If a member of the Management Team is working alone in the Lab, his/her work must be conducted under the following requirements. 
  • First, that person may not use equipment that is safety-critical and which requires direct hands-on manipulation of tasks, such as power hand tools, benchtop drill press, benchtop mitre and band saws, etc. Use of the laser cutters and 3d printers are permitted since these are stand-off computer controlled machines.  
  • Second, that person must notify an "on-call" buddy if he/she engages in any tool/machine use while alone in the Lab. The duty of the on-call person is to take action if the lab worker doesn't check in periodically as well as at the end of the work period. Action begins with trying to reach the lab worker to ensure that he/she is safe. If that person can't be contacted, then other members of the ML Management Team and/or Campus Safety should be contacted to check the state of the ML locations.
ML users must comply with lab safety policies relevant to apparel. This includes wearing long pants and closed toe shoes, tying back long hair, removing and taping off hanging jewelry, and wearing gloves when appropriate, etc. 
In the SCDI ML location, a line on the floor designates the portion of the room on which side safety glasses must be worn if working in that area for any significant length of time - this is the "machine end" of the room. On the other end - the "classroom" end - safety glasses should be worn by those working on a project with tools such as soldering irons, dremels, etc. Standard glasses/eyewear do not qualify as safety glasses; the Lab has safety glasses/goggles capable of fitting over standard eyewear.
In general, ML users are required to supply their own materials for the projects they work on. The exceptions to this include:
  • Remnants: Remnant materials from prior projects and/or vendors may be available for free. The types of stock available varies widely but generally includes materials such as plywood and acrylic. 
  • 3D Printer Materials: 3D printer materials are generally provided by the ML given the need to manage these materials and machines. Use of some machines and materials may involve a charge, which will be posted at the machine. 
  • ML Store: At times, the Lab runs a limited "store" through which some common materials may be acquired. Users should not depend on this service for obtaining critical materials in a timely manner. The Lab has the ability to execute credit card charges for these material costs.
No food or drink (to include bottles of water) is permitted in the Lab during normal operation. A set of cubbies are available for students to temporarily store food/drink items (and/other articles) while they use the lab; note that cubbies may be cleared at the end of each day with any remaining items being discarded. Food and/or drink may be permitted in the Lab during special events.
Students are a critical component of managing the ML. Student positions include Teaching Assistants as well as ML Coaches.
Maker Lab Teaching Assistants (TAs) are employed to staff the lab, assist Lab users, maintain equipment, conduct training, support ML activities/programs, etc. TAs are full-time graduate students who have significant ML experience, who have completed SoE TA/Safety training, and who typically conduct graduate research/capstone projects relating to the innovation program and/or maker-related devices/systems. These positions are hired and ultimately managed by the ML Program Director but work with ML staff and affiliated faculty to support the Lab.
Several volunteer "ML Coaches" also assist with running the Lab when ML TAs and/or Staff are supervising use of the Lab. In general, ML Coaches assist Lab users during open Lab hours or special events. Lab Coaches must have significant ML experience, complete appropriate School/ML safety training, and be approved by the ML/Innovation Program Director. A limited number of Senior Coaches, who typically must be graduate students, are authorized to host a limited number of Lab open hours on their own.
Some courses make extensive use of the ML to the point that student use of the Lab requires additional supervision during ML Open Hours and/or for additional closed Lab sessions dedicated to that course. In this case, the department(s) offering the course are expected to provide one or more course Teaching Assistants to assist with these dutes. These course Teaching Assistants are managed as Senior ML Coaches as far as ML management is concerned.
In general, students in any ML supervisory role are only approved to manage other students using tools for which the supervisor has been trained and also approved to act in a supervisory role.
The Maker Lab is intended for use as an educational prototyping lab. As such, the following types of activities are not supported unless directly approved by the ML Director:
  • Commercial Use: The ML may not be used to support the production of items for commercial sale or use, unless approved by the ML Director. Industrial use is possible through the industrial partnership program, but such use is oriented towards educational mentoring of students and sponsored R&D. Innovation contests with a sales component may also be hosted in the ML given their integration into the maker/innovation educational program.
  • Large Scale Production: The ML is not a production facility in the sense that it is not equipped, managed or financed to support the manufacture of a large number of items and/or items with substantial manufacturing times. Projects with manufacturing times on the order of 10's of hours or more for 3D printers and/or laser cutters require approval of the ML. Approval for projects requiring 100+ hours of machine time are routinely rejected. Given the current Lab operating model, requests of this type that are approved require early coordination, a manufacturing plan addressing schedule and personnel issues, consideration of other users, and monetary support to defray costs of machine maintenance and degradation.
In general, animals are not permitted to be in the ML unless their inclusion is part of a special event. The one exception to this is service animals. Students requiring a service animal should take ML hazards into consideration when making decisions about their animal. Students who require the use of a service animal in labs assume responsibility for all risks involved in the use of their service animal in lab areas, including the risk of exposure to hazardous materials and objects to their service animal. Service animals should remain in the "classroom" end of the Lab when present. Furthermore, a service animal can be excluded or asked to leave the room if the behaviors are dangerous or a significant interference with activities that are unrelated to the job or task that the service animal is performing, or if the presence of the animal will fundamentally alter the nature of the learning outcome. If there is a belief that a fundamental alteration exists due to the presence of a service animal in lab, this decision must be made in collaboration with the Office of Accessible Education. It is noted that therapy/emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals and are therefore not permitted in the Lab.