Further expanding its presence as a diverse creative workspace at Wichita State University, GoCreate, a Koch collaborative, recently began offering free memberships to Wichita State students.
GoCreate is part of WSU's Innovation Campus. The 18,000-square-foot makerspace is filled with a variety of machines and tools including laser-cutters, water jets, a quilt-maker and 3D printers.
Kimberly McCollum, assistant director of GoCreate, said one of the biggest reasons to offer free memberships to students was the remoteness caused by pandemic.
"We’ve seen a renewed desire for people to connect, create and imagine again,” McCollum said. “We wanted to offer these memberships to foster these creative outlets and invite students to use GoCreate to enhance their educational experiences and think with their hands.”
Though the facility is located at the Innovation Campus, it offers students of all majors a creative workspace. The facility is a place where DIY meets innovation, art meets technology, and business ideas meet reality.
Sierra Bonn, a WSU alum and University Innovation Fellow who founded Let’s Go Full STEAM Ahead!, frequented GoCreate as part of her fellowship when she was an undergrad beginning in 2017.
One of her favorite features at GoCreate was the sticker machine, which she used for a variety of campaigns and projects, as well as to design her graduation shoes. She also coded a light-emitting diode (LED) strip for a light saber-style violin bow she used to play the Star Wars theme as a contestant in the Miss Butler County 2022 competition.
“I have been very fortunate to be a member since it opened,” said Bonn. “I think it’s even more beneficial now that it’s free to students and open to everyone, not just engineers or business students who are already exposed to prototyping skills or entrepreneurial skills that you expect to be found in a makerspace.”
Sid Pathak, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering, is also a fan of GoCreate. Pathak used GoCreate when he was hired as a student technical assistant in August 2020.
In addition to using GoCreate to test class projects including building wings and wind tunnel models for tests at WSU aerospace engineering wind tunnels, he was able to access the wood shop. He says students who now have free access to the facility will not only benefit from the equipment and tools, but also from the mentorship they will receive in a variety of hands-on skills.
“The greatest resource at GoCreate is the mentorship; some of the mentors at GoCreate have been woodworking longer than I have been alive, and it is a privilege to draw from their experience and learn,” Pathak said. “They gave me the skills and confidence to work independently in the wood shop.”
Like Pathak, Bonn believes mentorship students will receive now that they have access to GoCreate is one of the greatest benefits they can receive from the facility.
“There are mentors on staff to help you figure out your idea and how to create it and connect you with the people who can help you make it,” said Bonn. “It’s a community that’s creating and helping each other, and I’m so excited to see an influx of students who hadn’t previously had access to this before. I think this is a good catalyst to have a more creative environment.”
The possibility of a more diverse, creative environment is another benefit of the free student membership that McCollum hopes GoCreate will now foster.
“I hope students see GoCreate as a place to think outside of the box,” said McCollum. “It’s a chance to dig deeper and think in new ways while being around a community of innovators, inventors and creative minds and I hope they see this as a creative outlet and an opportunity to turn abstract ideas into objects and functional prototypes.”