Unfamiliar to university students in Korea, Makerspace is a place where collaborative work on hightechnology is pursued. Making, learning, and exploring high-tech tools that cannot be easily seen in our daily lives happen in this magical place.
Although the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been the new turning point for future development, accessibility to these technologies has been low among Korean students. However, through the rise of makerspace, students are now able to access 3D printers and other manufacturing processes closely related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As a good example, Seongsu Makerspace is one of the most well-organized makerspaces in Korea.
S e o n g s u M a k e r s p a c e i s a manufacturing space for numerous individual makers whose skill levels range from beginner to expert. Various hand tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, digital multi-meters, function generators, and many more are in the makerspace. These tools are mainly used in making digital prototypes and for other fields in manufacturing. Moreover, Seoungsu Makerspace offers education programs for makers who are not familiar with these tools.
This makerspace is supported by Seoul Business Agency, one of Seoul City’s government bodies, and it offers most of the tools and education programs free of charge. Seongsudong was selected for makerspace because of the concentration of small manufacturing businesses in the area.
“To make synergy and fuse the manufacturing industries with the IoT, we decided to establish makerspace in Seongsu,” said Bae Jin-won, the person in charge of Seongsu Makerspace.
About 30 percent of the total users are university students near Seongsudong, such as those from Konkuk and Hanyang universities. They usually visit Seongsu Makerspace for their own maker start-ups and for their school assignments.
“There are students who use 3D printers for printing their structures or buildings based on their own blueprints,” Bae stated. “Students also come to our studio just to enjoy their hobbies.”
Makerspace is one of the essentials in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s makers’ movement, meaning a movement in which individual makers could shape their own ideas into a real product other than those produced by companies or factories. The Ministry of SMEs and Startups announced a project to recruit institutions or enterprises that could establish and manage makerspace in Korea. A total of 65 makerspaces would be selected and the budget support they would receive will total 22.5 billion won.
“The purpose of this project is to expand the manufacturing base nationwide by makerspace, which allows innovative creative activity to happen,” the Ministry of SMEs and Startups stated, according to the announcement of the 2018 Makerspace establishment and management project.
Aside from makerspaces supported by the government, makerspaces are also situated in universities and managed by universities. The Idea Factory of Seoul National University (SNU) is where SNU students go to use 3D printers.
The Idea Factory was first made after an SNU student’s suggestion in 2015. After the Sewol ferry tragedy, the student suggested that there needs to be a space where students could work on their own ideas that could prevent these kinds of accidents. After the suggestion was made, the dean of College of Engineering at that time, Lee Kun-woo, accepted the proposal and established the Idea Factory.
Numerous students from various majors come to the idea factory to use 3D printers, not only students from the engineering college. For example, students from dentistry come to make the dental impressions and students who are majoring in music come to make their own instruments.
“Now, it’s not just engineering students who use the Idea Factory,” a spokesperson for the Idea Factory said. “Even students from law school and from the college of liberal arts come to use our facilities.”
Moreover, the Idea Factory is a stepping stone to startups. The Idea Factory supports these new entrepreneurs with education programs and enables them to make their test products. The Idea Factory envisions fostering “First Movers,” meaning people who play the role of newly creating things that have been never made before.
“Unlike other universities, the Idea Factory is a place that students devised from the start, and where students participate voluntarily,” the spokesperson for the Idea Factory stated. “This is one of the reasons why our idea factory runs successfully.”
In Ewha, there used to be a makerspace called MakerZone in the Art and Design Building C. MakerZone was established in 2015, with 6 3D printers. However, it closed in August 2017.
“The place where MakerZone was situated was comprised of rooms for design students to work on their artworks or assignments,” the Administration Office of the College of Art and Design told the Ewha Voice. “Due to lack of painting studios for graduate students, we decided to change it to a graduate students’ painting studio.”
Makerspace is now going to spread out, becoming a place that can be more easily found in any region in Korea. With its full potential to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution, people who are getting involved in managing makerspaces think that makerspaces are indeed needed.
“The main core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is pretty much getting the spotlight in today’s society, is “customizing.” In other words, a makerspace could make a product that matches one’s specific taste and preference,” Bae said with a smile. “Facilities such as Seongsu Makerspace are crucial for expanding a healthy and productive maker’s culture.”