Our first five years of operation illuminated three primary pillars for success in lowering the barriers in a biological makerspace to fulfills the mission and push the facility toward the maximum potential:
i) build a vibrant community by supporting student initiative
ii) provide robust facilities to support a broad user base, and
iii) program content compelling for a wide range of interests and accessible to the full spectrum of ability and availability.
A strong group of supervisory staff enables greater space access. Utilizing graduate students (and a limited number of undergraduate students) and post-docs offers a budget-friendly way to enable a wider range of times than could be accommodated by faculty and staff. Supervisors should be screened for experience and demonstrated responsibility and need to be given additional training to prepare for response to issues which may arise.
Due to access restrictions during the phased reopening of campus makerspaces from the COVID-19 pandemic, a reservation system (https://clustermarket.com/) was implemented for booking workbenches to adhere to capacity limitations. While no longer needed for capacity, the reservation system aids in scheduling supervisors and ensures timely equipment access. Booking restrictions based on training status are implemented for certain equipment items.