Photos by Flannery Langton ’22
The newly opened Fimbel Makerspace and Innovation Lab now occupies what was previously Prospect Hall’s dining and lounging areas.
BY ANNAMARIE WIRE ’22
Originally located in the Art Building media room, Mount Holyoke’s Makerspace was created to encourage interdisciplinary learning and foster creativity on campus.
The new Fimbel Makerspace and Innovation Lab, located in Prospect Hall, expands on this vision, creating a space for everyone to engage with the culture of creation, whether their passion is in cooking, technology, art or elsewhere.
“We have four values here,” said Shani Mensing ’15, an alumna and Makerspace coordinator as she led me through the nearly 8,000 square feet that make up the brand new Fimbel Lab. “We want students to have this be a welcoming space, to be safe around equipment, to clean up after [themselves], and most importantly, to be curious and ask questions.”
Located in the space once occupied by Prospect’s dining and lounge areas, the Fimbel Lab showcases student creations in every aspect of its design. Featuring a tiled floor, a front desk designed by students and plenty of space to display student art and technology, the Fimbel Lab is a celebration of all things Maker at Mount Holyoke.
“It’s very nice,” said Jackie Park ’21 about the new Fimbel Lab. “I really like the unfinished look. There are so many places for students to work […] The old Makerspace was nice but it was very cluttered due to how small the space was.”
Even after the expansion, popular aspects and equipment of the old Makerspace are still present in the Fimbel Lab, including a button maker, a soldering and electronics station and a crafts station with paper, fabric and other miscellaneous supplies — all free for student use.
“This is meant as a low barrier entry space,” said Mensing. “We want all Mount Holyoke students to feel as if they can be here.”
A multi-purpose and brainstorming room occupies the former Prospect lounge and is outfitted with configurable desks and chairs that move to easily accommodate the needs of the diverse projects created in the Makerspace, as well as Mac and PC computers for student use. “We really wanted to create a space that could be whatever folks needed it to be,” said Mensing. “The main goal for these rooms was to allow students to be able to design the space to suit their needs.” While these rooms are used for teaching classes, they are also open for club and individual use.
The Fimbel Lab also features a brand new lounge space and full kitchen. “We really wanted to challenge the way you think about Making,” said Mensing. “We want folks to think about cooking as a form of creation too, rather than just heating up ramen,” she said with a laugh.
While the Fimbel Lab is open now, there is still more planned for the brand new space. In addition to the current stations, a metal and woodworking studio is nearly ready to open. The studio is furnished with new equipment in addition to some from the old Makerspace, including a second laser cutter and new 3D printers. The new space will also hold training classes on how to use all equipment. “It’s awesome to think that such a cool space is literally in my [residence] hall,” said Park, a resident of Prospect, “and since metal and wood work was added, I’m definitely going to go to learn more about them.”
“It’s almost surreal, seeing all the walls come up and seeing this whole place finally coming together,” said Mensing with a smile. “It’s just so exciting to turn Prospect into a special place for all Mount Holyoke students.”
The Fimbel Makerspace and Innovation Lab is open daily from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.