UMass Lowell Announces New Engineering Makerspace

UMass Lowell named its engineering makerspace in honor of business leader and alumnus Lawrence Lin at a dedication ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff and industry representatives.

The Lawrence Lin MakerSpace is an 8,500-square-foot, open-concept work area that offers 3-D printers, laser cutters, whiteboards and other tools to guide projects from concept to reality. Able to accommodate up to 100 people at a time, the makerspace is open 24 hours a day – ready for whenever inspiration hits – and is available to UMass Lowell students, faculty, researchers, industry partners and members of the community.

The naming of the makerspace for Lin recognizes his achievements in business and generosity to his alma mater. He and his wife Jang-Li Chang, who is also a UMass Lowell graduate, recently established a $1 million fund to outfit and operate the makerspace. In addition, the couple has a long history of support for UMass Lowell that includes endowing student scholarships.

“Lawrence has said he owes this university a lot, but we at UMass Lowell owe him a lot – both for his philanthropy and for his faith in our mission,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney. “The Lin MakerSpace empowers our students to bring their engineering concepts to life, like the members of our eNABLE team who use its 3-D printers to fabricate prosthetic hands for young children.”

Lin came to UMass Lowell in 1983 as a first-year graduate student from Taiwan. He knew virtually no one, worked diligently to master English and spent most of his time in the lab, working toward his Ph.D. in plastics engineering. His steadfast approach to his studies led UMass Lowell to name him Outstanding Graduate Student at the time.

Since graduating, Lin has used his degree to achieve career success, including tripling the size of his family’s manufacturing business, Grand Dynasty Industrial, while overseeing its transition to an environmentally friendly operation that has won Taiwan’s top award for corporate social responsibility. In 2014, UMass Lowell presented Lin with a University Alumni Award, which pays tribute to his distinguished service to the university, his profession and community.

“I have seen firsthand not just the products Lawrence makes but the caring nature in which he manages his team and his business,” said John Feudo, UMass Lowell’s vice chancellor for advancement. “It’s that thoughtfulness that inspired him to give back to his alma mater in this way.”

In his remarks at the dedication ceremony, Lin thanked UMass Lowell for helping him earn his degree and praised his professors and the camaraderie he felt while studying at the university.

“In my heart, I still feel Plastics Engineering is such a unique department. It still brings students together; we are brothers. I’m glad I can help this makerspace,” said Lin.

Engineering students take classes in the Lin MakerSpace and it is an area where students from all majors can imagine, collaborate and produce work to expand on their studies.

“Developing this space has truly allowed UMass Lowell’s engineering programs to deliver on the promise of hands-on education. Not only has it transformed how our students learn, but also how we interact with the community,” said College of Engineering Dean Joseph Hartman, adding that Grand Dynasty Industrial’s production area and equipment helped inspire the Lin MakerSpace.

The makerspace’s connections to the community include workforce training offered there through a partnership between UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP), as well as a team of local middle- and high-school students who are designing and building robots there for the national FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. UMass Lowell’s Future Engineers Summer Camps for high-schoolers are also based there and in July, offered sessions on the Internet of Things and renewable energy and sustainability.

The makerspace is located in Falmouth Hall at the former site of the university’s North Campus bookstore, which was relocated and expanded as the River Hawk Shop at the University Crossing student center.

“When I heard the old bookstore was being turned into a makerspace, I was over the moon,” said Stephen Kender of Chelmsford, who, as Lin once did, is studying plastics engineering at UMass Lowell. “I, and a lot of other students, have been able to derive a great deal from the makerspace since it opened.”

Kender is using the makerspace’s resources for several projects, from working as part of a team of fellow students to build a miniature satellite for NASA to developing a mold needed to manufacture the protective sports equipment for the venture he and his siblings launched through UMass Lowell’s DifferenceMaker Program.

The Lin MakerSpace and DifferenceMaker Central, a collaboration space for students in the entrepreneurship program, are just two examples of what makes up UMass Lowell’s North Campus Innovation District. Through the combined resources of faculty expertise and academic and research facilities – including the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center and the new Pulichino Tong Business Center – devoted to science, engineering and business, the university is advancing new technologies, preparing students for career success after graduation and assisting entrepreneurs and industry partners. UMass Lowell delivers $921.9 million in positive economic impact to the region, according to a study by the UMass Donahue Institute.

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