UW STEAM powers Wyoming’s future

The Wyoming governor's directive to diversify and strengthen Wyoming's economy is prospering at UW. Students, faculty and community members are invited to use the Coe Makerspace to integrate classroom learning and discovery with hands-on learning. (Photo by Rob Bryans)
3D printed models sit on a shelf. These 3D printed models give students experience in operating hardware and software that is highly applicable in engineering and marketability. (Photo by Rob Bryans)

The development of Wyoming’s new economic strategy for diversification through ENDOW and the need to supplant fossil fuel extraction budgets with viable long term industries will not only support Wyoming’s economy but also the skilled graduates and families that make Wyoming their home.

Across campus the term “STEAM” is used to describe the interdisciplinary combination of creative and industrial application. The term is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“When Wyoming began the ENDOW project, UW wasn’t necessarily a concrete part of that, per-say,” UW College of Business Chair and Stroock Professor of Natural Resource Conservation and Management Jason Shogren said. “It’s been more of an organic process.”

The Coe Student Innovation Space is a very visible and user-friendly example of how students and community members are encouraged to engage with interdisciplinary problem solving and creativity on UW’s campus.

“Hopefully this space is a place to teach and give hands-on experience to anyone interested in emerging technologies,” Tyler Kerr, director of the Coe Makerspace, said. “This is really geared towards the STEAM goals at UW but we want everyone to come in and learn and flesh out ideas.”

Shelves at the front of the Coe Makerspace are labeled with different departmental headings such as, “Engineering” or “Graphic Design” and hold various 3D printing projects that pertain to each field. There are places in the Coe lab for testing products, brainstorming and building.

“We’re putting a lot into fostering innovation and building a new framework at UW that supports that goal,” Dean of Engineering Michael Pishko said. “Another big part of this is developing new Registered Student Organizations or RSO’s and degree programs that will support the long term vision for the state and the university.”

The Wyoming Governor’s Office, Wyoming schools and Wyoming’s institutions of higher learning are all attempting to combine their vision to create wealth for Wyoming’s residents and government.

“The Coe Makerspace is no gimmick,” Kerr said. “This space is tomorrow and this is about feeding ideas with function and use in real industry, it’s about getting students in here to use the tools available.”

The Coe Makerspace doesn’t just create opportunities, it is an opportunity for the student “Makerspace Educators” that work there and assist people with their projects.

“I’m really excited to see how working at the Coe Maker Space and working in UW’s Graphic Design department will overlap with 3D fabrication and ideas,” Zavier Bates, a UW freshman and Makerspace Educator, said. “I’m glad I am just a freshman so I can get the most out of these tools over the next few years.”

The operators at the Coe Makerspace encourage students to drop by and check out some of the seasonal items and projects they have to get people introduced to 3D fabrication and the space as a whole.

“I came into this position by using the same technology to scan and reproduce fossils,” Kerr said. “Now we’re really trying to do some in-depth and functional training for students who want to teach the programs and the hardware and help people realize their capabilities.”

Right now, students may visit, place an order, or help create different items for their Valentine’s Day gifts including 3D printed roses and 8-bit hearts.



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