Gannon University opened its doors to a new era of innovation with the unveiling of the MakerSpace and Center for Manufacturing and Technology. This dynamic space is set to redefine the landscape of manufacturing with cutting-edge resources to fuel the future of technology-driven production. The university was pleased to celebrate the grand opening in October and showcase the facility features and impact it will have on students, businesses and the local community.
A Beacon of Progress
Situated on the sixth floor of the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, this facility is a game-changer. It opens doors for students and small businesses to explore avant-garde manufacturing techniques, while larger corporations can also tap into Gannon’s resource pool, fostering groundbreaking collaborations in research and development.
Left to Right: Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., Sarah Ewing, Ph.D., Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D.
Gannon President Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., expressed his excitement. “The great work that will be done here by our students and the businesses we collaborate with will keep Gannon University at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to overcome the challenges facing today’s manufacturing and technology industries.”
Where Innovation Meets Application
The MakerSpace boasts 10 dedicated areas for advanced manufacturing techniques and production that have been equipped through substantial grants and donor support. It’s not just an investment in infrastructure; it’s an investment in Gannon’s students and the future of manufacturing.
Advanced Additive Manufacturing Lab
One highlight is the Advanced Additive Manufacturing Lab, which houses multi-material 3D printers capable of producing high-detail projects. The metal printing room boasts a Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) 3D printer that can handle various materials like copper and nickel alloys and tool steel. Meanwhile, the resin printing area is replete with polyjet and SLA resin printers, perfect for creating prototypes and design models.
The MakerSpace is designed for collaboration, too. The open-floor section encourages students and businesses to work together. Surrounding it is a full wall of meticulously curated and placed tools as well as a machine shop area with CNC mills and lathes. The wood shop is a haven for woodworking projects with advanced equipment, while electrical workstations beckon with the opportunity to integrate electrical and software engineering into projects. Other areas cater to specific needs, like the welding shop and the “dirty work room,” which includes an Omax water jet, sandblasting cabinet and paint booth.
A Launchpad for Dreams
Sarah Ewing, Ph.D., Gannon’s provost and vice president for student experience, emphasized that the MakerSpace is a “playground” for cross-collaborative learning, and nurturing holistic and well-rounded leaders. “Students will have an experience here that will transform them into the next generation of leading engineers, healthcare practitioners and manufacturers,” she said.
She also highlighted the potential for the MakerSpace to impact the community’s economy and ecological health through initiatives like Project NePTWNE, focusing on creating technological solutions to address environmental challenges.
“The technology here is unparalleled. ... It's not just an academic space; it's a gateway to industry.”
- Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D.
A Competitive Edge and Innovative Ecosystem
Karinna Vernaza, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering and Business, highlighted the MakerSpace’s role in providing students with a competitive edge.
“The technology here is unparalleled, exposing students to new manufacturing technologies not available elsewhere on campus. It’s not just an academic space; it’s a gateway to industry,” she said.
It is also an integral part of Gannon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that provides resources for startups and established companies to seek support in various areas, from consulting to design services, to small-scale production as well as analytics and management services.
Open for All
The MakerSpace is open to students from all majors, emphasizing inclusivity and collaboration. It’s not just a space for coursework and research; it’s a hub for community outreach. Professional workshops and boot camps are on the horizon, promising to be a valuable resource for businesses and the community and ensuring the MakerSpace benefits all.
Nick Devine ’17, ’19M, design and fabrication engineer, reflected the collective enthusiasm, saying, “This facility will provide students with an exceptional platform to transform their ideas into reality. With a wide range of tools and resources available for prototyping, we anticipate a significant rise in the caliber of projects across the Gannon community.”
Machine shop area with CNC mills and lathes
Innovation in Action
The Bishop of the Erie Diocese, Lawrence T. Persico, J.C.L., blessed the MakerSpace and Center for Manufacturing and Technology, and the ribbon was cut - symbolically, on National Manufacturing Day, recognizing the transformative power of modern manufacturing. By creating this new resource, Gannon stands at the forefront of shaping the future with a facility that is both a symbol of progress and a testament to the university’s commitment to education, innovation and community. It is a platform where dreams meet reality, where technology meets application, and where tomorrow takes shape today.