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Warfare Centers Learn How to Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators

By NSWC Crane Public Affairs | Nov. 16, 2016

Bloomington, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) hosted STEM representatives from NSWC Keyport, Corona, Dahlgren, NUWC Newport, Puget Sound Navy Shipyard and Strategic Systems Program for a two-day makerspace training workshop on Oct. 12-13 at WestGate Academy Conferencing and Training Facility.

Makerspaces are places where people gather to create, invent and learn in a social setting. Equipped with unique tools such as 3D printers, solder irons, and computer programming software, makerspaces can be invaluable devices for incubation of creativity and innovation.

NSWC Crane hosts its own makerspace for area students on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., so they were asked to teach the representatives from other locations how to institute makerspaces in their own communities, and how to network with others who have instituted makerspaces or are in the process of doing so.

“The workshop was really a great success,” said Tina Closser, STEM Director at NSWC Crane. “All attendees were able to gain invaluable knowledge and information, and get hands-on experience previously unavailable to them.”

During the two-day workshop, NSWC Crane representatives presented the logistics of implementing makerspaces, and the range of activities that can be used in such settings. The workshop was interactive and all representatives were able to participate in a variety of hands-on activities, including computer programming, constructing 3D models, and building joystick-controlled motors. The representatives were also able to interact with the students who regularly attend the afterschool makerspace hosted by NSWC Crane at WestGate Academy.

Most makerspaces are designed for adults, so a big focus of the workshop was teaching the other representatives how to integrate age-appropriate activities into their makerspaces to keep students engaged.

“Some kids you have to prod, and help them with the brainstorming process and ideation,” Closser said.

The attendees of the conference are still in the process of developing makerspaces in their own communities, but Closser said they all have found the information to be incredibly useful.

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with focus areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability, all which provide a decisive advantage for our warfighters.