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UCA Launches Makerspace at The Shoppes at Donaghey

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The community space will help build the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

CONWAY–The University of Central Arkansas community welcomed the UCA Makerspace Powered by the Conductor at a launch event Tuesday morning.

The UCA Makerspace Powered by the Conductor is a place for students and community members to make, design and dream. It is a collaborative, interdisciplinary workspace with tools to prototype concepts, make new things, and take ideas to the next level.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson was on hand for the launch.

“We are entrepreneurs. We are innovators. This gives us the space to accomplish and to build the technology community that is so needed in this state,” Hutchinson said. “This Makerspace here at UCA and providing this leadership is an incredible part of that ecosystem that we need for entrepreneurship and technology to flourish.”

The Conductor is a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting driving innovation, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in Central Arkansas. The partnership began in 2016.

“This was a bold move by the University of Central Arkansas by the leadership and the board of trustees last fall when they entered into a partnership with Startup Junkie Consulting,” said Jeff Standridge, chief catalyst at the Conductor.

Since the start of the partnership, Standridge said the Conductor has touched over 1,300 entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors, creators and business owners; had interactions with over 250 college students; created a mentor network of more than 30 business leaders who mentor entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, and conducted more than 300 one-on-one consulting meetings.

“It’s a concentrated example of what we’re doing across all levels of education trying to incite and inspire students to what they can do regardless of their field of study,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “We know that this is going to open up new doors of excellence at UCA.”

Kim Lane, chief operating office at the Conductor, said, “With top-of-the-line digital fabrication tools, a cadre of expert mentors and an exciting lineup of interactive, educational classes, the Makerspace gives everyone the opportunity to make their own products, learn new technologies and prototype their ideas. It creates a place where new ideas thrive, students and community members can collaborate to solve civic and social problems, young people can engage in applied STEM learning, and everyone can learn integral skills needed in a workforce that is continuously reshaped by innovation and technology.”

The UCA Makerspace is equipped with six 3-D printers, a laser cutter, CNC machines, routers and other digital fabrication tools.

The UCA Makerspace will offer weekly training workshops for students and community members and regular operating hours during which anyone can come work and tinker in the space.

The Makerspace is open to the public Tuesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday will be reserved for field trips and machine maintenance.

Regular classes are for those 16 and up. Youth classes are for those between ages eight and 15.

Registration for Makerspace classes and events can be found at arconductor.org/makerspace.

All of the classes and events are free and open to the public.

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