UNCA’s Steam Studio opens

Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville
Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville

This morning, UNC Asheville held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new makerspace, the Steam Studio, located at RAMP Studios on Riverside Drive. The art and technology facility, funded in part with a $400,000 grant from Duke Energy, is part of the university’s plan to connect creative learning across its curriculum. The space “will open up new possibilities for design projects beginning in the spring 2017 semester,” according to a press release, “and will bring together the disciplines of mechatronics engineering, art, computer sScience, new media and more under one roof.”

During today’s media tour, students from the art and engineering departments discussed how the shared learning space allows them to learn from each other and work on collaborative projects such as assistive devices.

Engineering Design Studio and Lab Manager Sara Sanders, a graduate on the university’s engineering program, designed workbenches for the Steam Lab that students then built. The workbenches can be used for storage but are also mobile and can be set up in various configurations depending on class and workspace need. Because it’s both cost effective and educational, other equipment in the studio, such as a welding bench and computer tables, were also collaborations between Sanders and interested students. “We’re trying to embrace the idea of a makerspace and make as much as possible,” says Sanders.

The tour included demonstrations of a water-jet cutting tool and a robot created by the university’s mechatronics program.

Brent Skidmore, a teacher in the UNCA art department, says, “We believe we’ll learn a lot more if we’re working cross-discipline. … What happens is a lot more dynamic than what takes place in just an art studio or an engineering studio. … We all have [limited] budgets, but by bringing it all together, we can make it a lot more dynamic.”

Learn more about Steam Studio here.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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