A new program at the University of Wyoming is helping students to use design and problem-solving skills in hands-on ways.

The program, called WyoMakers, is part of the global “maker” movement and works to create a maker space for people of all ages.

“In a makerspace, the emphasis is on making—on creating something,” says Tonia Dousay, assistant professor of professional studies at UW and the program’s founder.

Dousay says the program is providing students with a variety of tools to facilitate a hand-on learning experience. Some of the technology offered includes a PC work station, a Mac work station, a variety of design software and even a 3D printer.

The 3D printer has been a big draw, according to Dousay, because it is something many people have heard about but not had the opportunity to work with. She says the 3D printer provides opportunities for students to create any design the come up with.

“They can do almost anything you can imagine, and I think that’s what makes the twenty-first century so engaging,” says Dousay.

WyoMakers already has two projects underway, one of which uses the 3D printer.

The project utilizing the 3D printer is with the Laramie Junior High School. Student’s from the school’s engineering elective course will design boats, as they have done in the past. This year, though, students will be able to turn their prototypes into a 3D design using software. The designs will then be printed on the 3D printer, and students will be able to improve upon their designs.

Another project underway at WyoMakers is being conducted with the Lab School. Eleven seventh to ninth grade girls signed up for the design elective, which is focused on learning how designs differ in two dimensional settings compared to three dimensional ones. Students in the electives are in the process of creating designs and images to be printed onto fabric using a fabric printer from UW’s Family and Consumer Sciences program.

The young designers will then work with undergraduate students who will design what to make with the fabric’s created. The end designs will then be highlighted during the Family and Consumer Science Fashion Show in the spring.

Funding for this project comes from proceeds Dousay received from her two-year Mary Ellbogen Early Career Fellowship.

Dousay says the program is always looking for new ideas including ideas for projects, software, or equipment. Anyone with ideas to further the WyoMakers program can do so by visiting their Facebook page or by email wyomakers@uwyo.edu.