Hacker Lab and Sac City College (SCC) are teaming up to offer full Hacker Lab access to all students taking SCC’s MAKR courses.
The new partnership brings students closer to industry, workforce skills and entrepreneurship. Hacker Lab offers events, classes and networking in Midtown, which SCC students can use to build their dreams, passion projects and class assignments.
The partnership may be the first like it in the country, making Hacker Lab accessible and increasing SCC enrollment.
“We need to help people get better paying jobs and better livelihoods with more students working independent and self-employed jobs,” said SCC Makerspace Project Director Tom Cappelletti. “Our goal is to eventually have classes here; that’s part of the community in community college.”
To receive full Hacker Lab access, enroll in any MAKR course at Sac City College. Current classes planned this fall include “MAKR-140: Introduction to Making” for design-thinking and fabrication skills; and “MAKR-201-203: App Development with Swift,” which teaches anyone to code with the fundamental concepts of app development and program.
Click here to sign-up and learn more, or read below for details on how the SCC-HL connection came to be.
A Look Back and Forward
A New Direction in Education
IN the newly-formed SCC office at Hacker Lab Midtown, for professors and students to meet and work, Cappelletti showed the letter U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui sent after visiting SCC’s makerspace.
“As you know, there continues to be a growing need to prepare our students for careers in STEAM-related areas. Programs like yours ensure that our region is ready to be a leader in creating the innovative workforce of the future,” Matsui wrote.
She scrawled in a handwritten note, “I am so excited about your maker space, please update me on the progress.”
Just two years ago, Capalletti led a team forming SCC’s makerspace. Matsui knew all about them, he said.
“The fact is, the barrier for entry is higher than it should be for these workforce skills. We need to re-introduce people to 21st century shop.” Capalletti said.f
Sac City is the second major higher educational institution Hacker Lab has partnered with. Hacker Lab’s partnership with Sierra College led to the creation of statewide legislation and funding.
Sierra partnered with Hacker Lab in 2015 in the country’s first public-private partnership. That resulted in state funding, with the state carving $24 million for maker spaces out of $1 billion legislators set aside to make the colleges more relevant.
In April of 2016, Capalletti read a white paper detailing the progress and applied for a competitive grant, eventually receiving $700,000 for two years along with about 30 other schools.
The SCC Makerspace came alive inside two empty classrooms, Capalletti said wearing glasses with a “Makerspace” sticker and sitting with Cody O'Ferrall, an adjunct professor teaching app development and TA Sam Liff. Capalletti wanted to make such a space for years having seen similar spaces in tech companies like Apple and as a design student at UCLA, which offered a product and graphic design space as early as the '80s.
Sam Liff, an SCC student who works the front desk of the makerspace, said the community of driven makers and entrepreneurs made the space what it is.
Liff made a series of posters that drew the community in, identifying the space’s users as design thinkers, storytellers, innovators and makers of the future.
“It’s a gateway to meet people. Aside from being exposed to the equipment and learning new skills we wouldn’t have access to, being around people who have your back and bring out the best in you makes a big difference in our learning,” Liff said. “My friends and I love product design, furniture design – we thought, why don’t we have classes for that?”
Experimenting in New Models
Cody O’Ferrall tried making a similar space while studying in New Mexico. The former instructional assistant turned adjunct professor after transferring to Sac City College.
O’Ferrall said the time is ripe to explore new models in education.
“More and more people are finding a 4-year degree isn’t as relevant or is cost prohibitive. We need to be more accessible; giving people options allows them to explore,” he said. “Maybe we start thinking about lifelong learning; there’s not age limit.”
“It still requires a lot of resources and we have the ability to put those together — that’s our main mission as a community college: To provide resources and education for the community.”
Since opening the SCC Makerspace, Capalletti’s seen transformations, including from former gangmembers turned furniture designers and others who had little access to the community, tech or entrepreneurship. Capalletti credits Van Ton Quinlivan, who originally carved out the funds to make the space and fund others across California’s community colleges.
“There’s not one maker space below us in the Central Valley,” Capalletti said. “One of the poorest parts of the state. We need to give people the skills they need to succeed, whatever it takes. We need to get people jobs: That’s our pathway.”