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Category “making”

The Educational Makerspaces Interview Series

I recently completed a series of four podcast interviews with folks from higher ed, K-12, and libraries who all run makerspaces and are involved in the educational advancement of making. You can check out all four episodes on This Should Work*, but here they are in sequence:

Aaron Hoover, Olin College

Terry Steinbach and Betty Shanahan, DePaul University

Jeff Solin, Lane Tech

Sasha Neri, Harold Washington Library


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

SPIME (I’m now assembling PCBs)

Astute Thotcon badge observers may have noticed a “Made with SPIME” imprint on the back of this year’s badge. This wasn’t just a hint to a puzzle, but to a new project that my creative partner Rudy Ristich and I have been working on. The name SPIME is inspired by Bruce Sterling’s moniker for objects that contain more than their material qualities through attachments to information in “the cloud.”

For Rudy and I, SPIME is an endeavor that leads us into some exciting territory. While we’ve been developing conference badges for a while now, we’ve never actually gotten as close to the production of them as we’d like. After the board is initially designed and we’ve worked with the fabrication and assembly folks to get them built, the work is handed off and presto, a few weeks later, our objects are complete.

So last year, in the never-ending quest to get closer to the point of creation, we decided to buy an SMT (surface-mount technology) line so that we could begin assembling small batch runs of boards for our work and the work of our friends. Thus, SPIME was born.

Our goal is to help folks relatively new to the PCB development process get their boards into production as painlessly as possible. This ranges from people who also create their own conference badges to companies and individuals prototyping or putting together small runs of product.

At the very least, this will be an interesting experiment that allows us to help a few friends out and to scratch an itch that we both have. But who knows? If you’ve got a project that could use some help and fits the bill, check out our website and send us an assembly request.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

New Episode of TSW* with Jeff Solin of Lane Tech!

Jeff Solin is an educator, makerspace administrator, and all around good-guy at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. This is the third part in This Should Work’s* series on educational makerspaces, and I’m really grateful that Jeff joined the podcast to talk about the way he thinks about educating students in makerspaces and fostering a supportive educational makerspace environment.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Against Smart Cities and Toasters

“That is, the enterprises enumerated here are to a surprisingly great degree responsible for producing both the technical systems on which the smart city is founded and the rhetoric that binds them together in a conceptual whole.”

Adam Greenfield, Against the Smart City

Greenfield makes an important point here. Who’s driving smart city applications and, more broadly speaking, IOT ones? Are things being built based on customer demand, or based on trying to create demand where none exists.

This reminds me of the story of the toaster’s creation, as told in Thwaites’ The Toaster Project, where he outlines its development as a problem driven by power companies who could not, at the turn of the 20th century, fluctuate their power output based on demand. As told by Thwaites:

“… to meet morning and evening demand, suppliers had to continue generating at peak level output throughout the day [..] thus a way to increase demand outside of peak hours was needed.” He goes on to say, “If you can’t, or don’t wish to, cut back on production, then try to manufacture demand — the story of the twentieth century?”

And, thus, the humble toaster was born. Not to fill a consumer need, but to generate demand where none existed. Next up: smart cities.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Thoton 0xA Badge Workshop Pictures

Big thanks to Jeff Carrion, DePaul University photographer pro, for coming out to Thotcon 0xA and taking these great pictures of our workshop. Keep your eyes out for an upcoming article on our collaboration with Thotcon!


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

DePaul Student? Apply to work at the IRL and IIRL

We’re hiring for all positions at the IRL and IRL2 on (respectively) the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses. If you’re a DePaul University student who has interest in exploring making and tinkering, and sharing that joy with others, check out our hiring page here.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

This Should Work Episode 18 – Aaron Hoover

Episode 18 kicks off a series of interviews I’ve conducted/am conducting around educational makerspaces. The series includes conversations with people from higher ed, K-12, libraries, and other institutions, and is geared toward providing a snapshot into how leaders in the field view their work, challenges, and opportunities that makerspaces bring to education.

Aaron Hoover is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Olin College and one of the founders of the Higher Education Makerspaces Initiative and the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces. In this episode, Aaron and I discuss the state of maker education in higher education including the challenges and opportunities that educators face in this context. This interview is the first part in a series of interviews about makerspaces in education.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Southland Makerfest Timelapse

Thanks to Ron Angle, from Angle Drone Solutions, for taking this video from our event last weekend!


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Southland Makerfest in the news

Great write-up about our event was in the Chicago Tribune a little bit ago. Check it out!


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Make it at DePaul High Schooler Summer Camp

Here’s a PDF for download-and-print purposes. To be first in line when registration opens, sign up here.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus