Dixie State University opens largest public makerspace in Southern Utah

 Dixie State University has increased its investment in entrepreneurship programing and resources by opening a state-of-the art makerspace and prototyping lab at its new entrepreneurship center, Atwood Innovation Plaza.

Following Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony where Trustee Lindsay and wife Laura Atwood officially opened the space, hundreds of community members were able to tour the new makerspace, participate in hands-on activities and watch tutorials on state-of-the-art equipment. 

“This makerspace is a true gem in our community and is a key element to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers innovators and supports entrepreneurs,” Don Willie, DSU’s executive director of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said. “With the addition of the makerspace, we are building an entrepreneurship center unlike anywhere else in the nation.”

The DSU Makerspace at Atwood Innovation Plaza is funded in part through a grant from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant award was matched by a generous donation from DSU Trustee Lindsay Atwood and his wife Laura. EDA funding was used to purchase the equipment for the space as well some professional staff salaries.

“The DSU Makerspace has state-of-the-art equipment that enables innovators and entrepreneurs to launch a business,” Dixie State University President, Richard “Biff” Williams, said. “Not only will individuals be able to access the equipment, they’ll be taught and trained on how to use each machine with the latest techniques.”

The makerspace is open to the entire community and includes equipment and supplies that support printing, prototyping and small-run manufacturing. Equipment and processes include:
• CNC Laser Cutters / Engravers: Cut and Engrave logos and artwork on wood, plastics, leather and metals up to 4' x 8'
• 3D Printers: Print parts and objects designed in CAD software using plastics and resin
• Professional Printing and Vinyl Cutting: Print and cut vinyl decals, banners, stickers, and posters up to 64" wide
• Sewing and Embroidery: Sew and embroider custom designs on fabrics and garments
• Electronics: Troubleshoot and design electronic circuits

To use the space, community members can purchase a day pass or become monthly members. A makerspace pass gives members access to trainings and special events as well as access to all equipment in the space. Prior to using the equipment, members must be certified by taking a short training or evidencing their experience. Members may purchase supplies in the space or bring their own.

“This facility creates a culture that is really about entrepreneurship, innovation and opportunity” Dixie State University Business School Dean Kyle Wells said. “By learning how to use this equipment and then launching a business, we are elevating economic opportunity in Southern Utah.”

In addition to the makerspace, Atwood Innovation Plaza is home to the Business Resource Center, which serves Washington and Kane Counties. This center supports the creation and growth of local companies. Through no-cost business counseling and support, residents can take an idea or prototype and launch an LLC, secure a patent or trademark, pitch for funding, write a business plan, create a marketing strategy and scale a business. The co-location of the business resource center and makerspace produces a true one-stop-shop for local innovators.

Classes will also be held in the space for all ages. Starting in May, project specific classes will be available to both children and adults for a fee. From 3D printing a vase, to creating wall art on the laser machine to designing and printing a poster, the makerspace will promote technical training and skill development on each piece of equipment – skills that could translate into a new side gig or additional revenue source for individuals and families. 

For more information, or to purchase a makerspace membership, contact Makerspace Coordinator Zack Manweiler atZack.manweiler@dixie.edu or 435-525-1242.