Aspiring makers at the UI MILL — The UI MILL invites students to drop in and share creativity at Make It Monday events


With 3D modeling software and printers, an assortment of mini-computers, a vinyl cutter and even an old-fashioned typewriter, the Making, Innovating and Learning Laboratory (MILL) seems to have a gadget for everyone. Tucked behind tables of tutors and study groups, the open door to the MILL welcomed passers-by to let their creativity fly free at the first Make It Monday of the year.

Make It Mondays are a tradition that allows any student to drop into the MILL and receive a quick lesson on a simple maker activity. The 2017-2018 Make It Monday events kicked off with a button making event Aug. 28. Attendees were greeted by MILL staff, such as Kevin Dobbins, ready to show off the easy-to-use button maker.

“(The MILL) is an incredible space that’s just a lot of fun to work in,” Dobbins said, showing off the various tech stations around the busy room.

He paused by an open computer to point out a sketch of the university’s logo that he was working to convert into digital format. Once traced over with the device’s software, his design can be printed with the Silhouette Cameo, a vinyl cutter popular among students for designing stickers.

The wall is already decorated with an inspiring array of student-designed stickers, including a proud assortment of the MILL’s logo in Vandal silver and gold, the three Pokemon team emblems, and a block of text that reads “Straight Outta Hogwarts.”

Dobbins moved on to help a student create a set of custom designed buttons to promote the Law Students for Appropriate Dispute Resolution group at an upcoming UI College of Law event. For multiple students, the MILL is more than just a creative escape, it’s a resource that can add extra flair to any project or event.

Kristin Henrich, the head of User and Research Services at the UI library, said she wants the maker space to be user-friendly and accessible to all.

“I really wanted to make this a space where everyone feels comfortable,” Henrich said.

Through Make It Mondays, Henrich and her fellow MILL staff try to draw in students who might normally find themselves overwhelmed amongst the multiple gadgets available. While it can be intimidating to walk up and get started with a 3D printer or even a simpler “analog” button machine, Make It Mondays offer students the chance to succeed in fun hands-on projects with some support from the MILL staff.

This autumn’s Make It Monday events include learning to use virtual reality lenses with the MILL’s Google Cardboard sets, playing MineCraft on a Raspberry Pi mini-computer and gaming with a banana for a controller using the MakeyMakey system. Regardless of a student’s technological background, the MILL can be anything from an escape from classes, to a roommate bonding activity, to the extra pizazz needed to put an art project over the top.

The next Make It Monday will go from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the MILL. MILL Staff will showcase Google Cardboard, View-Master and Leap Motion. However, students can dive into the Maker Tech world on their own by dropping by in person or reserving the MILL’s equipment online.

To view a full schedule of MILL events and to reserve equipment, visit the MILL’s webpage at

Beth Hoots can be reached at

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