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Makers Space: A dedication to Cathy Lechmaier

Students, staff and faculty look on as Cathy Lechmaier Makers Space ribbon-cutting ceremony commences.

Photo by Student Life

Students, staff and faculty look on as Cathy Lechmaier Makers Space ribbon-cutting ceremony commences.

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On May 4, MATC’s Oak Creek campus officially opened the Makers Space. A makerspace is sometimes referred to as a “hacker space” and is often associated with the fields of engineering, computer science and graphic design, but is open to all fields and careers for exploration.

The concept emerges from the technology driven “maker culture,” associated with Make magazine. This idea of a collaborative studio space has taken hold in education, where the informal combination of lab, shops and art form a compelling argument for learning through hands-on exploration. On campus, a makerspace is embraced by majors of the arts as well as the sciences.

At MATC the Makers Space is inside of the Oak Creek campus library and features many gizmos and gadgets including Legos and Play-Doh. Yes, I said Play-Doh. According to Kevin Richter, a member of Student Government and an Information Security student, the idea for a makerspace came from Jennifer Medved, the librarian. Richter said, “The goal is to help students succeed and learn in a different way versus the book learning.It was designed for students in science and technology, for current and future students.” The Maker Space has a laser etcher and 3-D pen, a mini green screen, board games for math and English skills, and mini robots. Although this space seems like all fun and games it is indeed a place with a purpose to “help students learn, help them grow,” stated Richter.

What’s even more interesting is that the Makers Space was opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicated to a long- time and now retired employee of MATC’s Student Life, Cathy Lechmaier. Lechmaier was the reason why students wanted to come to school. She was the mastermind behind entertaining and providing a fun learning environment to students on campus. She worked at MATC for over 35 years and constantly looked for fun ways to engage students in learning. This is why the Makers Space was created in her name.

Richter, who has known Lechmaier for about 14 years, says he can describe her in one word, “Giving.” He stated that one of his most memorable moments with her was going to New Orleans to do a project for Habitat for Humanity and having fun while doing it. He explained that Lechmaier was great help to him and involved him in many activities. She helped him become part of the ASACC (American Student Association of Community Colleges); she served as a trustee and presenter.

Lechmaier’s dedication to students is a trajectory of over 30 years, 39 to be exact! One of Lechmaier’s favorite events at MATC was to host a leadership conference.

She is a strong believer in creating new ways to learn. At leadership conferences she taught career skills. Lechmaier is very excited about the Makers Space and stated, “The Makers Space is an awesome concept to assist students in learning and is a stress reliever during exam time. I hope the lab blossoms across the district to assist all the students and grows with more educational tools.”

The Makers Space is a great place to learn by applying hands- on knowledge and technology and will expand to other campuses when permitted. Meanwhile get your foot in the door for hands-on fun at the Makers Space and enjoy new ways of learning!

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Makers Space: A dedication to Cathy Lechmaier