Professors Steve Quilley (above), Rob Gorbet, and Marcel O’Gorman, all of The University of Waterloo, have secured a small Metcalf Foundation grant to “study the impact of accessibility of ‘making’ technologies for ‘ordinary people’ on their sense of self(-worth) and their consumer practices”, as Rob described it. Rob reached out to me in January, looking to put together a maker advisory group, and I’m super-happy my offer to volunteer was accepted.
I’ve spent a good deal of effort over the past five years thinking about how to identify and lower the barriers to making for those whom I respectfully call “civilians”, beyond the hardcore maker community. In fact, my blogging and workshops and media work were born out of the necessity to tackle just these kinds of challenges. We had a great lunch and chat at Kismet on Tuesday to start banging around perspectives and ideas.
I’m a big fan of UW, though not an alumnus (go U of Guelph!). Living a short 2km from campus is extremely convenient as I’m over there for public lectures, dance recitals, student project symposiums, FIRST robotics, ESQ camp drop-offs, and next week I’m taking my kids for a tour of the Faculty of Engineering. I reckon you could say that the ever-awesome kwartzlab was conceived at UW, as we started meeting up in an empty classroom in the MC (Mathematics & Computer) Building, when a local makerspace was just a dream.
Having had some exposure in both the UW mix and the make-o-sphere, this study is an intriguing opportunity to extend the connections.
Running the project is UW Adjunct Professor and researcher, Jason Hawreliak (above), who was also down for lunch. I believe my very good friend Agnes Niewiadomski will be joining the advisory group as well.