About Us

Project Manus was initiated in October 2015 by MIT Provost Martin Schmidt.  Our mandate was to create the gold standard in next generation academic makersystems.

The effort is led by MIT Professor Martin Culpepper, and is housed within MIT’s Innovation Initiative. There are three phases planned. Phase 1 is complete. Phase 2 is underway and we are planning for Phase 3:

  1. Solutions: Develop modifications that will transform our makerspaces (over 120,000 ft2) into the “gold standard” for next generation academic makerspaces.
  2. Implementation: Implement solutions to upgrade legacy spaces and integrate the proposed MET makerspace (20,000 ft2) with the legacy spaces.
  3. Long-term: After Phase 2, MIT will have over 45 major makerspaces that occupy more than 150,000 ft2. Project Manus is slated to become the MIT office that will see to the continued function and evolution of these spaces.

Phase I programs include:

Mobius – MIT has over 45 major makerspaces that make up MIT’s makersystem! Mobius is the one-stop-shop “window” into that system.  The Mobius mobile app enables students, faculty and staff to find the resources they need, pay for materials/usage fees, demonstrate training credentials and contact makerspace managers regarding access and training. Mobius was launched in March 2016 and now has over 2,000 MIT users.  We are working to develop Mobius so that other schools can leverage the investments already made through the Make Impact Consortium.

Mega Makerspace – MIT is investing in a new, 20,000 ft2 state-of-the-art makerspace. Project Manus is leading the design, layout and programing of this space.

Maker Safety – We have been working with MIT’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) office to review and adapt MIT’s policies, procedures and training standards so that we maintain a high level of safety within makerspaces, while providing broader and more rapid student access to maker resources.

Makerspaces 101 – Project Manus is leading an effort in partnership with peer institutions (Stanford, Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Yale, CMU, CWRU, Olin) to create the 1st guidebook for academic makerspaces.  The book will cover best practices/processes for creating and running academic maker spaces.  With the same group of schools, we have taught several professional education courses on creating effective academic makerspaces.

Maker Training – Our student makers/entrepreneurs need fast access to maker resources, but they must be trained and safe prior to accessing makerspaces.  We are implementing a tiered training program, where our staff feels it makes sense.  Tiered training breaks the ‘many tools at once’ (MTO) approach (often used in universities) into several smaller sessions.

  1. Basic maker training – Training on general makerspace safety/conduct and safe use of hand tools.
  2. Digital fabrication training – Training on low-risk equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, routers, waterjet cutters and some benchtop machines.
  3. Tool-specific training – Training on more advanced tools may be scheduled on a one-by-one basis.

Tiered training will fill the need of providing faster access to some maker resources, in some cases twenty-five times faster than before.  MIT’s innovative MakerLodge training program began in the Fall of 2016 and is continuing this year.  We are working to expand the training to cover more advanced equipment and beyond the freshman class.

Maker Mentors – MIT students are keen to help each other learn to make.  Through this program, students will be trained in good mentoring practices, and in some cases, certified to oversee the work of their peers and training peers on some equipment.

Maker Metrics – How do you know a makerspace is working?  You need metrics to assess them.  Project Manus is developing the metrics that can be used to understand how effective a makerspace is, relative to its goals and the resources it utilizes.

Maker Connect – Project Manus has deployed a login system that enables our makerspaces to quantify usage/traffic, what’s being made in them, the types of activities within them, and the demographics of users.  This data is being used to continually improve the spaces and inform future decisions to enhance the maker capacity across MIT.  As of the beginning September 2017, over 13,000 sessions have been logged.

MakerBucks – Your average “maker bear” MIT student spends around $150 per year on making.  The MakerBucks program will provide each student with credit that they will be able to use to pay for materials and machine time in the various makerspaces across campus.

Maker Network – Project Manus has led the efforts to establish the Higher Education Makerspace Initiative (HEMI) to share best practices from leading schools on creating and running vibrant makerspaces.  MIT hosted the first ever International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM) in November 2016.

Phase II programs include:

Maker Consortium – MIT launched the Make Impact Consortium in the Fall of 2017 with the mission to provide tangible resources to rapidly create, grow and develop vibrant makerspaces as part of robust innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems on university campuses around the world in order to create bridges between ideas in the classroom and real-world impact.

Mega Makerspace – MIT is investing in a new, 20,000 ft2 state-of-the-art makerspace. Project Manus is leading the design, layout and programing of this space (continued from Phase 1)

Maker Sling Shot – Building on the success of the MakerLodge program, Project Manus is working to create additional training opportunities for everyone at MIT to enhance their skill levels with maker technology.

Mobius – Mobius development continues with a focus on expanding access to Mobius to other universities through the maker consortium.  We continue to catalog and add additional makerspaces to the database.

Virtual Maker Tours – Project Manus is working with the makerspaces around MIT to create video tours of their spaces.  We want to enable everyone to be able to see the variety of makerspaces at MIT.

Maker Metrics – How do you know a makerspace is working?  You need metrics to assess them.  Project Manus is developing the metrics that can be used to understand how effective a makerspace is, relative to its goals and the resources it utilizes. (continued from Phase 1)