Creating a community of makers

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrated the grand opening of its newest state-of-the-art campus makerspace on Nov. 16.

At 3,500 square feet, the Murray Hall makerspace is the largest of the three campus facilities and will become the central hub of the BeAM (Be A Maker) network. It includes fully equipped rooms for woodworking, metalworking, digital fabrication and more.

“We see making as a cross-cutting activity that has always happened across campus,” said Rich Superfine, the Taylor Williams Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences. “What’s new is to create a community of makers.”

The Murray Hall space joins makerspaces in Kenan Science Library and the Hanes Art Center (the Kenan facility is a partnership of BeAM and University Libraries’ Research Hub). Together, they are designed for the Carolina community — students, faculty and staff — to connect with one another to design and create physical objects for education, research, entrepreneurship and recreation.

In addition to holding workshops for students on topics such as 3-D design, laser cutting and wireless networking, the Murray Hall makerspace is also being used by professors to teach specific lessons in classes ranging from biomedical engineering to sociology.

The art of “making” bridges interdisciplinary boundaries and champions the teamwork necessary for ambitious and complex projects.

Biologist Kriti Sharma researches soil microorganisms. The availability of the 3-D printers in the Kenan Science Library allowed the Ph.D. candidate to create a customized device to study bacteria in the soil and under microscopes.

Sharma agrees that making is nothing new — whether it’s to solve a problem or to create something beautiful. “It’s a fairly ordinary human activity. Long before I even entered science, I was already doing it.”

For a schedule of makerspace workshops, visit

Video and story by Kristen Chavez, College of Arts and Sciences