UWG Offers Open Access to Prototyping Workspace: The Garage

The Garage, located in Boyd 114, provides open access to high-tech prototyping equipment, offering a new avenue for aspiring minds to turn ideas into real-world products.

Tucker Cole

The Garage, located in Boyd 114, provides open access to high-tech prototyping equipment, offering a new avenue for aspiring minds to turn ideas into real-world products.

Included in The Garage’s collection are 3D printers, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, a water jet cutter, a digital media studio, circuit building components, a metal lathe, band saws, a computer lab and other such items.

Deemed the university’s “premier maker space,” The Garage is available to all students at UWG, as well as anyone in the surrounding community interested in turning their ideas into physical products.

“We’ve had anybody from West Georgia students to high school students to faculty and staff,” said The Garage’s Maker Space Manager and UWG graduate student Witt Teem. “We’ve had people come all the way out from Atlanta. I enjoy having it open to the community.”

The technologies and services provided in The Garage were funded by a grant and have been accessible since 2018, but they were located off campus up until this year.

“The equipment originally came from a grant way back in the day from our old location, when it was a project that was conjoined between the Carroll Tomorrow Business Chamber of Commerce and the university,” said Teem.

The Garage’s first home was the Burson Center, which was a business incubator where Teem began providing programming lessons, holding events, conducting classes and inviting people into the maker space. Teem said the Burson Center is no longer in existence after Carroll Tomorrow cut off funding for the building, but the maker space lives on at UWG.

“They decided to, very generously, give us all the equipment, and we brought it on campus, and this is the first iteration,” said Teem. 

Tucked away on the first floor of the Boyd Building, the new space does not hold as much equipment as the original location did, but it also provides a more convenient location for UWG students to visit.

“Our old space used to be very large— about three to four times the size of this space— but it was off campus, which means it was kind of a drive for students to come and see us,” Teem said. “So, the fact that we’re on campus now, if students just want to pop in, it’s a lot easier.”

Most tools in The Garage are free to use, thanks to some funding from the UWG science department, with the main exception being projects that require a significant amount of 3D printer filament or other supplies.

“The model we have set currently — we’re still fine tuning it — but the model we have currently is if we have enough filament and it’s something small, we don’t really worry about it, but if it’s something that takes an excess amount, then we measure out how much filament you used and we give a rate for that,” said Teem.

There is yet to be a specific policy for the kinds of projects that people can create in The Garage. Rather, Teem serves as a facilitator and instructor for those who show up with an idea, and most projects are handled on a case-by-case basis. 

Teem highlighted a few examples of the kinds of projects that students have created in The Garage in recent memory, including large sculptures used for decorating the University’s Winter West event, as well as an LED lighting matrix which has been assigned to a computer science student to be placed in the Humanities building elevator. He also mentioned film students creating props, sororities and fraternities making decorations for their events, as well as students making cosplay suits and video game controller casings.

“That’s what I really enjoy about this job, quite frankly, is you have lots of different people from different walks of life, different professions and different perspectives coming in and saying, ‘I want to make this,” Teem said.

For those interested in utilizing The Garage, it is now open Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-7 p.m. every week.