The day before Tim Cook gave his commencement speech for the 2017 MIT graduating class, he sat in a room on the fourth floor of The Engine to listen to seven students present on MIT life and culture. The seven students were selected from different years and different programs at MIT, ranging from undergraduates that just finished sophomore year to students halfway through their MD/PhD program.
One of our MakerLodge mentors, Illina Yang, was the youngest student asked to present. While most students shared their theses and various projects, Illina spoke about the culture of “making” and the communities of “makers” at MIT. Not only did she display the projects of various students and maker communities, but she also shared stories of her own experiences with making at MIT—the electric go-kart she built over an IAP, a set of LED speakers, and robots for her classes. One of her anecdotes, the one about the go-kart, evoked one of the biggest laughs from Tim Cook and the others. She shared information about the communities she is a part of and why she and others are happy to call MIT their new home. And though a little nervous at first, she finished her presentation confident and proud and with a large smile on her face.
MakerLodge is a pilot program at MIT. It is the first undergraduate student-run shop here at MIT. A branch of Project Manus, it was designed and created in 2016 to teach incoming first-year students how to use basic shop tools and machines as well as give them access to various shops and maker spaces around campus.