MIT Makersystem

DOZENS OF MAKERSPACES PROLIFERATE across MIT’s campus, giving the MIT community access to a host of tools—from chisels, saws, and belt sanders to 3-D printers, welding machines, and oscilloscopes—to bring their ideas to life.
Illustration for Spectrum Magazine by Adam Simpson

Makerspaces at MIT (and many universities) are usually one of three types. They all have similar maker tools, but their community elements differ, and they are purposed and managed in a different way:

Machine shops – Spaces that specialize in training/mentoring/making on the creation of complex systems and/or fine-detailed components. Interaction with staff (skilled machinist educators) is their key value, so they specialize in quality of maker education/work vs. quantity of students served.
Project makerspaces – Spaces that primarily support class projects. These spaces usually contain more resources to facilitate collaboration, i.e. meeting space and open working space. The key value of these spaces is in their ability to integrate specific resources that enable programmed, curriculum-based learning.
Community makerspaces – Prioritizes fostering unrestricted making via a community effort. The community members serve as stewards of the space/resources and educate users in safe making practices. The key value of these spaces is the community’s ability to facilitate access to more users, particularly early/novice users.

Many spaces are hybrids, primarily of one type but that have elements of another type. In all of our MIT campus makerspaces, the students do the work. We don’t consider ‘work for hire’ areas to be makerspaces because they don’t facilitate personal making… they are job shops. At left you’ll find the breakdown of makerspace types on MIT’s campus as of December 2015.

MIT is adding a new state-of-the-art, 17,000ft2 community makerspace – the MET makerspace – to help meet the general making needs of our campus. This graphic shows the expected breakdown of space after the MET makerspace comes online.

MIT’s Makersystem

In a makersystem, local makerspaces network together to offer specialized capabilities to a larger community (e.g. a campus). MIT’s makersystem includes makerspaces tailored for entrepreneurship, the arts, class projects, metal working, wood working, glass working, micro/nano making, biomaking, unrestricted use, etc. Historically, networking of the spaces has occurred informally. We are in the process of facilitating this via the Mobius web app and increased interaction between the local makerspace communities.

MIT’s Major Makerspaces


3-D Printing Service at Copytech
Architecture Fabrication Shop
Architecture Wood shop
Area 51 CNC shop
Huang-Hobbs BioMaker Space
Center for Bits and Atoms
Chemistry Machine Shop
Civil Engineering Machine Shop
Cypress Engineering Design Studio
The Deep * [Run by Project Manus]
Edgerton Student Clubs
Edgerton Center Student Shop
Gelb Lab
Glass Lab and Foundry
Hobby Shop
Lab for Engineering Materials
Lab for Manufacturing and Productivity
LEES shop
Martin Trust Center Protoworks
ME MakerWorkshop
Metropolis * [Run by Project Manus]
Microsystems Technology Laboratory
Media Lab
Music and Theater Arts Set Shop
Pappalardo 1 Laboratory
Physics Machine Shops
Product Design Laboratory
SUTD-MIT International Design Center