Lab64, a new electrical engineering laboratory and workspace located on the bottom floor of Packard, held its grand opening October 19. The workspace, also known as the Packard makerspace, is open 24 hours, seven days a week for any Stanford students interested in building electronics.
The full space consists of a series of rooms in Packard that have been retooled expressly as a makerspace. Cleaned out and filled with various electronic equipment, the walls are for writing on and brainstorming ideas.
Students of all majors can use the space after they view a short lab safety presentation and email the Lab64 manager. To further promote safety, lab64 has a buddy system that requires students to work in pairs when they use the space.
"Whether you're an electrical engineer or an art major who wants to use lights in your art pieces, we want everyone working here," said lab64 course assistant Sam Girvin '16.
The lab is currently equipped with what Girvin calls "typical lab bench stuff," including oscilloscopes, power supplies, soldering irons and a 3D printer. A laser cutter is also expected to be purchased in the coming weeks.
Lab64 was created because the electrical engineering department has wanted to help create a "maker" culture at the University for years, according to Girvin. Students now have a place to build whenever they have project ideas; they can go beyond building for class assignments.
"When I came to Stanford as a freshman, there wasn't an easy place to make things," Girvin said. "So I'm really excited about this."
During the opening event, students chatted over pizza and cookies and listened to presentations about the space. Attendees were then split into two workshop groups to explore the lab's capabilities: One group built a working AM/FM radio and the other, a functioning game console that plays the game Snake.
"This is a way to get into building important personal projects," said Zach Belateche '20, a prospective electrical engineering major and lab64 visitor. "Whether it's right after class or midnight on a Sunday, I can come here and work on things I care about."
Packard's makerspace has a team of mentors who can guide students to use the equipment effectively and safely. lab64 can be used by anyone, not just electrical engineers.
"We're trying to get as many different people to come in as we can," Girvin said. "We're willing to teach as much as people are willing to learn."
The lab supplies all equipment and basic materials for free, but a "Maker Store" is also set to open soon in Packard. It will sell more specific items that students may need to complete their projects.
Lab64 is not just a place to work with electrical equipment. Ultimately, the goal is to create a community where people can work, chat and talk about projects.
Excerpted from The Stanford Daily, "Makerspace opens, available for students to build," October 21, 2016.