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SGA advocates for increased funding for Keeland Design Lab

The Keeland Building is one of the last remaining student-designated maker spaces on campus after closing the maker space in the engineering building. | Raphael Fernandez/ The Cougar

On Wednesday, the Student Government Association introduced a resolution emphasizing the need to sustain and adequately fund UH’s makerspaces, particularly highlighting the Keeland Design Lab.

The Keeland Design Lab, the Hines College of Architecture’s fabrication space for students, is currently facing financial challenges that threaten its availability to students. 

“This facility needs funding because the students that were using this space told me that the facility is necessary for their entire college career,” Sen. Jesus Nieto said. “If they don’t have this space, they will not be successful in the classroom.”

According to the resolution, this facility is crucial for students’ hands-on learning, fostering real-world skills and problem-solving abilities. 

Adequate facility funding ensures the burden of providing essential resources does not fall on individual faculty members or students.

“I know that there are professors at the College of Architecture who dip into their own pockets for student supplies,” Sen. Mohib Awan said. “My professor supplied some things last semester for our class, so I’m sure it’s up to their discretion, but I do not think that they even legally have to be reimbursed.”

The recent shutdown of the engineering makerspace has exacerbated the situation, significantly reducing the resources available.

“These students are going to fail if they do not have the proper resources that they need,” Nieto said. “Why are we allowing the University to force students and faculty to fundraise their own machines to be successful in the classroom?”

This situation underscores the need for adequately funded and accessible makerspaces to ensure all students, regardless of financial background, have equal opportunities to engage in learning.

“I think the most feasible thing to do is to take this revolution back to the College and show them what the students think,” Sen. Tav Cockrell said. “I don’t think that the colleges are considering the larger impact, so I will be interacting with the appropriate officials at the university level to handle this issue.”

The resolution urges administration to explore sustainable funding models, including partnerships with local businesses, alumni donations and grant opportunities to support the makerspace’s continued operation and effectiveness.

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