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University of Auckland’s makerspace success shared on international stage  

21 December 2022

Sean Kelly and Hayden Moore shared best practice insights from the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at two recent conferences celebrating the global makerspace movement. 

The University of Auckland’s cutting-edge makerspace Unleash Space shone in the international spotlight earlier this year, as representatives from CIE’s innovation hub spoke at two recent conferences celebrating the global Maker Movement. 

Sean Kelly, Unleash Space Manager, travelled to Georgia, USA in November to speak at the 2022 International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM). Sean was the only makerspace professional from the southern hemisphere invited to present at the conference. Sean shared how his team found success through pivoting to a blended model of online and in-person training sessions for Unleash Space users. While this shift was prompted by the necessities of Covid restrictions, he says they were able to use it as an opportunity to innovate. 

“The blended model allows us to extend the reach and capacity of our makerspace to onboard and train even more flexibly, which is more desirable for our end users,” Sean says. “It means we can feasibly scale our offerings, handle a large volume of students and ensure that while we’re doing all this, our operational model remains efficient and viable.” 

The results speak for themselves, says Sean, with over 1,000 students and staff taking part in Unleash Space technology training sessions this year. Learnings have been integrated into management of the Business School’s new 5G-enabled innovation hub Te Ahi Hangarau. The University’s academic community has also come on board with increased interest in integrating the training within their curricular programmes.  

“There’s also been the express benefit for students who use the space, with how much easier the process is – it’s much more desirable and flexible for them,” says Sean. 

The University of Auckland’s approach to makerspace education is unusual in the scale of its inclusivity and diversity. Traditionally, makerspaces at universities tend to be operated by and for a particular discipline, such as Engineering. Unleash Space offers free co-curricular learning opportunities open to students and staff of all faculties at the University, democratising access to technology training and opening up opportunities for transdisciplinary learning. 

Getting students to buy in has been a crucial element to the success of the maker space, and it’s something the University does particularly well, says Maker Space Coordinator Hayden Moore.  

Speaking at the recent Australasian Academic Makerspace Symposium hosted by UNSW in Sydney, Hayden was able to compare experiences, learn from others and share advice with fellow maker space enthusiasts. 

“The community aspect of our maker space is what really seems to set the University apart from others. We’ve got lots of people who just love the maker space and love using it,” he says. 

“There’s so much diversity here and it allows people to make connections. You have people from all the different faculties coming in and collaborating on projects, sharing ideas and that’s amazing.” 

At the conference, Hayden also shared how the University has been incorporating virtual reality into its curricular offerings, such as the new Business 202 course launched this year as part of the Bachelor of Commerce degree 

It’s this kind of innovative and focused approach that has helped land the University on global lists of Best Maker Schools in Higher Education – in 2021 by Newsweek magazine and in 2022 by Make: magazine, which has championed the international maker movement for the last 19 years. 

Going forward, the team are keen to build on their learnings and successes to make Unleash Space bigger and better than ever. 

“We want to identify new innovations that make our technology trainings more accessible and desirable,” says Sean.  

“We want to be more intentional about how the facility is integrated across the University, and how we can support the University’s objectives to be a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” 

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

21 December 2022

Sean Kelly and Hayden Moore shared best practice insights from the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at two recent conferences celebrating the global makerspace movement. 

The University of Auckland’s cutting-edge makerspace Unleash Space shone in the international spotlight earlier this year, as representatives from CIE’s innovation hub spoke at two recent conferences celebrating the global Maker Movement. 

Sean Kelly, Unleash Space Manager, travelled to Georgia, USA in November to speak at the 2022 International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM). Sean was the only makerspace professional from the southern hemisphere invited to present at the conference. Sean shared how his team found success through pivoting to a blended model of online and in-person training sessions for Unleash Space users. While this shift was prompted by the necessities of Covid restrictions, he says they were able to use it as an opportunity to innovate. 

“The blended model allows us to extend the reach and capacity of our makerspace to onboard and train even more flexibly, which is more desirable for our end users,” Sean says. “It means we can feasibly scale our offerings, handle a large volume of students and ensure that while we’re doing all this, our operational model remains efficient and viable.” 

The results speak for themselves, says Sean, with over 1,000 students and staff taking part in Unleash Space technology training sessions this year. Learnings have been integrated into management of the Business School’s new 5G-enabled innovation hub Te Ahi Hangarau. The University’s academic community has also come on board with increased interest in integrating the training within their curricular programmes.  

“There’s also been the express benefit for students who use the space, with how much easier the process is – it’s much more desirable and flexible for them,” says Sean. 

The University of Auckland’s approach to makerspace education is unusual in the scale of its inclusivity and diversity. Traditionally, makerspaces at universities tend to be operated by and for a particular discipline, such as Engineering. Unleash Space offers free co-curricular learning opportunities open to students and staff of all faculties at the University, democratising access to technology training and opening up opportunities for transdisciplinary learning. 

Getting students to buy in has been a crucial element to the success of the maker space, and it’s something the University does particularly well, says Maker Space Coordinator Hayden Moore.  

Speaking at the recent Australasian Academic Makerspace Symposium hosted by UNSW in Sydney, Hayden was able to compare experiences, learn from others and share advice with fellow maker space enthusiasts. 

“The community aspect of our maker space is what really seems to set the University apart from others. We’ve got lots of people who just love the maker space and love using it,” he says. 

“There’s so much diversity here and it allows people to make connections. You have people from all the different faculties coming in and collaborating on projects, sharing ideas and that’s amazing.” 

At the conference, Hayden also shared how the University has been incorporating virtual reality into its curricular offerings, such as the new Business 202 course launched this year as part of the Bachelor of Commerce degree 

It’s this kind of innovative and focused approach that has helped land the University on global lists of Best Maker Schools in Higher Education – in 2021 by Newsweek magazine and in 2022 by Make: magazine, which has championed the international maker movement for the last 19 years. 

Going forward, the team are keen to build on their learnings and successes to make Unleash Space bigger and better than ever. 

“We want to identify new innovations that make our technology trainings more accessible and desirable,” says Sean.  

“We want to be more intentional about how the facility is integrated across the University, and how we can support the University’s objectives to be a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.” 


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