Student workers help keep Tar Heels made at BeAM

Whether you’re looking to prototype a new product, make a craft gift, or add the finishing touches to a classroom project, Carolina’s makerspaces have exactly what you need.

Our four maker spaces – located in Murray Hall, Carmichael Residence Hall, Hanes Art Center and Kenan Science Library – make up the university’s Be a Maker network and provide students with the space to design and create physical objects for education, research or hobbies.

While the carpentry shop, 3D printers, and laser cutters can bring ideas to life, hard-working students play a vital role in making Tar Heels.

Kishan Babuji, a computer science and statistics student at the College of Arts and Sciences, is one of approximately 50 students who work alongside full-time staff to keep the makerspaces running day-to-day.

Babuji, who has been using makerspaces for three years and working in the spaces since 2020, shared his experience as a BeAM student worker.

What is your role in the Carolina makerspaces?

I first wanted to work in the makerspace because I was heavily involved in my high school makerspace/design shop and loved it. Among all the other student job opportunities on campus, BeAM stood out for me because the spaces were so well equipped, and it was an area I already had experience in.

I started as a program assistant, assisting patrons entering BeAM and leading trainings, but then I joined the teaching team as an education specialist. In addition to my duties as a program assistant, I have now helped to design and create the trainings for the various tools and machines on Sakai. The education team is also responsible for creating quick guides for the tools. This semester, I also led a “Laser Cutter Community of Practice,” where I lead new hires through a six-week program to help them become familiar with laser cutters.

Kishan Babuji standing in the makerspace.

Kishan Babu Ji

How critical are student-workers to makerspaces?

I believe that student workers are an essential part of the makerspace as we perform important day-to-day tasks such as equipment maintenance, customer support, and tool training. Since all student workers are also passionate makers, we help design new tool training and provide feedback on different facets of the makerspace.

That being said, BeAM’s full-time professional staff play an important role in making BeAM the incredible space it is known for. They have been incredible mentors to us and have set the standard for BeAM as a safe and innovative space.

What’s the best part of being and working in makerspaces?

The best part of working at the makerspace has to be the other student staff working there. Everyone brings a positive attitude and is always ready to help each other. I feel like we’ve built a strong community of staff members, and that makes the job more enjoyable for sure.

The highlight of my role was helping create tool trainings. Building a complete training is a challenging task that has allowed me to make great progress in finding ways to make information more easily digestible by clients while ensuring that they learn all the necessary information. There is also a lot of freedom in the way I create the formations, which also allows me to be creative.

How has your position in makerspaces helped you develop skills you can use after college?

Working at makerspace has definitely helped prepare me for my future career by teaching me how to communicate properly and how to be responsible and take ownership of my tasks. The full-time staff members also helped me professionally in terms of writing my CV and introducing key contacts.

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