After adapting to COVID-19 guidelines and assessing weekly infection levels, the BeAM makerspace reopened last week for all UNC students at its Murray Hall location.
Previously, the space was only open to researchers and students in specific classes, even creating a new opportunity for community service. The space has now been modified according to COVID-19 guidelines, with newly implemented systems of reservations and online trainings, giving all students the opportunity to use the space.
BeAM Director Kenny Langley said the makerspaces have been changing in response to the community’s different needs in light of the pandemic since early March.
“We started to get requests from makers across campus that wanted to come in and start producing PPE,” Langley said. “Some people wanted to produce ventilators, or they wanted to make things that they anticipated would have an impact, but we had to be careful.”
Langley said BeAM members worked with an applied physical sciences professor at UNC to engineer face shields. Local volunteers, medical school students and vendors worked with BeAM members to produce over 40,000 face shields, the majority of which were purchased by UNC Health.
“Our volunteer corps was amazing,” Langley said. “Some people would come in for eight-hour shifts and just assemble them as fast as they could, after they received training. This was in the beginning of a pandemic, so it was just really amazing what came together.”
As the fall semester approached, Langley said the BeAM organization began assessing how it would restore different user groups to the makerspaces.
Audrey Bousquet, a junior studying biology, said she has been using the BeAM location in Murray Hall since August as part of an applied sciences course.
“We talk in class about designing and prototyping, and we work in groups to do projects and stuff, and so far, we’ve learned how to use different machines in the makerspace,” she said.