CDL’s ingenuity engine lets the mind wonder

By Doug Marrin

On the second floor of the Chelsea District Library is an enchanting portal to the incredible worlds of our indoor and outdoor space, a place where your imagination and creativity can let go and run, run, run.

CDL’s Ingenuity Engine (IE) is for people with all kinds of interests to come and explore the vast possibilities their curiosity can open up for them. It is aimed at artisans, artists, businesses, groups and individuals. Anyone can take advantage of IE’s technology without buying their own. The room includes a 3D printer, laser cutter, Cricut and Silhouette vinyl cutters, sewing machines, and audio-video editing equipment with beginner and professional software.

“The Ingenuity Engine is a creative space where the community can come together, experiment, learn and expand their horizons,” said Matt Jensen, CDL’s technology specialist who oversees IE. “Think of it as a place to discover while doing.”

Put simply, a makerspace is a place where you, well, To do things. In education, students experience hands-on learning with a variety of tools that can include a carpentry shop, 3D printing, audio-visual equipment, engravers, computers, and hand tools. Spaces like CDL’s Ingenuity Engine are designed to empower us to create, problem solve, develop skills, talents, and think critically.

Passionate about learning, Matt Jensen is CDL’s technology specialist who oversees IE. Photo by Doug Marrin.

It may seem unusual to some that such activities end up in a library. But Jensen sees makerspaces as the evolution of how libraries have adapted to serve the public.

“The first thing a lot of people think of when they think of libraries is books,” says Jensen. “But that idea slowly changed over time. A notable change occurred at the time with microfilm and microfiche databases, compacting film information that could only be viewed with bulky equipment.

Jensen describes how the next bump in evolutionary progress came with the introduction of word processors and computers. After that, libraries started offering VHS, then DVDs and CDs. And now libraries provide access to streaming services like Hoopla, not to mention millions of ebooks and other digital resources.

The laser cutter cuts wood and acrylic and can engrave on different surfaces such as metal and glass. Photo by Burrill Strong.

“Libraries have always been where humans cultivate and store information,” he says. “There was a time when if you wanted to learn something, you had to read a book. But we know that people learn in different ways. A creative space such as the Ingenuity Engine fits this idea perfectly. »

In addition to cultivating the inner space of our creativity, this fall EI is offering an exciting space program, Skynet Junior Scholars. Skynet is a global network of robotic telescopes with telescopes in places like Chile, Australia, Canada and Italy. With a laptop, students learn to program these telescopes to explore and take pictures of the universe. Students can even go one step further and design a unique t-shirt with the image or use the laser engraver to make a woodcut.

Skynet students have access to five such telescopes in Chile and others around the world for their space exploration of things like the nebula on the right. Photos courtesy of CDL.

The Ingenuity engine has been open for a year. Most activities were by appointment. Curious people walk in and discuss their interest with Matt, from there. As the makerspace grows, it anticipates more course formats.

“We want people to let their curiosity lead them and see where it takes them,” says Matt. “If you have an idea, let’s see if we can make it happen.”

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