Mastering digital skills

Makerspace and the Digital Creativity Centre help students harness their creative learning.

Business student Ryan Tshiyoyo uses Mohawk College’s Makerspace every day to design and create new pieces of clothing for the brand he created in high school.

“If I’m having a bad day, I go to the Makerspace and make a T-shirt and I feel better about myself.”

Makerspace – part of the Digital Creativity Centre within the Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation – is a place to explore, learn, experiment and create. It provides 21st century learning of digital skills, collaboration, and experiential and applied learning.

Students, faculty and staff have access to a range of maker equipment and experts who teach how to use it either one-on-one or in group workshops.

The Makerspace is housed inside the 5,600-square-foot Digital Creativity Centre (DCC), a home to three 3D printers, a laser cutter, a Cricut, a vinyl cutter, a heat transfer machine, a UV printer, a cold roll laminator, a T-shirt press, and equipment to practise coding or build digital devices. It also features a recording studio, editing suite, AV/VR studio and project rooms that feature whiteboards and large monitors.

“DCC and Makerspace are meant to be a jumping-off point for students to come in and find something that allows them to express themselves in ways they may not have considered before,” says Richard Mader, Manager of Digital Skills.

“Projects can be fun and recreational but also students are inspired to make things they care about. The sky’s the limit on what can be done in the Makerspace.”

Students use Makerspace to work on class projects, too.

“As a college, it’s our mandate to prepare our students for the workforce of tomorrow and the layers of digital and technical skills they will need,” says Marilyn Powers, Director, Academic Technology in the Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation.

“Supporting digital literacy and helping students master vital digital skills is at the heart of what we do in the Digital Creativity Centre. Employers want to see the digital creativity of students. DCC and Makerspace is a great place to explore that.”

Tshiyoyo is working to get his upstart “street fashion” brand off the ground. He takes second-hand T-shirts and jeans and upcycles them with his own designs or he produces items from scratch.

Ryan working on the clothes stamping machine“It’s not a hobby. This is who I am as a person.”

The range of the equipment available to him in the Makerspace, and the help provided to use it, has been a huge benefit to Tshiyoyo. In a good week, he creates four or five items that he’s adding to his collection.

“I tell other students about it because so many people are sleeping on what’s there. You are able to build and create so much and try different things,” he says.

There is a constant buzz in Makerspace, says Noah Giunta, who is one of seven Digital Skills Technicians in the DCC.

“It’s not quiet like the library but it’s not the cafeteria, either. It is a busy place where people work hard.”

The DCC offers one-on-one or group sessions in person or online to help students learn how to use the College’s learning management system and other digital tools. Mohawk College logo