It’s hard to overstate how exciting and satisfying it is to work as an intern in Orange Coast College’s Makerspace. Even exhausted and at the end of a busy afternoon, the people working there are happy to be there.
Some students are nervously guided through their first steps with CNC machines and 3D printers. Some walk in with a confident swagger, excitedly greeting the person who taught them to use their tools and perhaps briefly chatting before settling down with their usual equipment. Still others walk in with the intensity and focus of an industrial laser, speed-walking across the concrete workshop floor and getting to work without a word or so much as eye contact with anyone.
The people who come are the best part of the Makerspace, but the equipment available is a pretty close second. I’ve been taking a Raspberry Pi — a small computer primarily for prototyping and educational purposes — home with me every day for weeks now.
I’m trying to make it do useful things for our workshop, but the reality is that I’m constantly learning every step of the project. My progress has been slower than I’d hoped.
And no one minds. They respect what I can already do, and they share my joy every time I make some major step toward my goals.
Meanwhile, I’m floored by the skills and work ethic of the other interns. I have no expertise with manufacturing equipment. Watching another intern patiently walk a student through every step of setting up a machine and running a program humbles me as much as turning a tiny computer into a web server or WiFi network access point boosts my ego.
The Makerspace gets pretty busy in the early afternoon, but it’s definitely a hidden gem. The manufacturing equipment is well-loved, but the device I’ve been taking home is just one in a massive stack of unused electronics. The OCC Makerspace is just beginning to realize its potential, and I can’t wait to see its future.