Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Student workers help keep Tar Heels making at BeAM

While the woodshop, 3D printers and laser cutters in Carolina's makerspaces may bring ideas to life, student workers play a critical role in keeping Tar Heels making.

A glass door with a BeAM sticker on it.

Whether you’re looking to prototype a new product, make a handcrafted gift or add a finishing touch to a class project, Carolina’s makerspaces have just what you need.

Our four makerspaces — located in Murray Hall, Carmichael Residence Hall, the Hanes Art Center and Kenan Science Library — make up the University’s Be a Maker Network and give students the space to design and create physical objects for education, research or recreation.

While the woodshop, 3D printers and laser cutters may bring ideas to life, student workers play a critical role in keeping Tar Heels making.

Kishan Babuji, a senior studying computer science and statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, is among the nearly 50 students working alongside full-time staff to keep the makerspaces operating every day.

Babuji, who has been using the makerspaces for three years and has worked in the spaces since 2020, shared his experience of being a BeAM student worker.

What is your role at Carolina’s makerspaces?

I initially wanted to work in the makerspace because I was heavily involved in my high school makerspace/design shop and thoroughly enjoyed it. Among all the other student employment opportunities on campus, BeAM stood out to me since the spaces were so well equipped, and it was an area that I already had experience in.

I started out as a program assistant, assisting patrons who came into BeAM and leading trainings, but I then joined the education team as an education specialist. In addition to my duties as a program assistant, I now helped design and create the trainings for the various tools and machines on Sakai. The education team is also in charge of creating quick guides for the tools. This semester, I’ve also been leading a “laser cutter community of practice,” where I lead new hires through a six-week program to help them become more familiar with laser cutters.

Kishan Babuji standing in the makerspace.

Kishan Babuji

How critical are student-workers to the makerspaces?

I think student workers are an essential part of the makerspace because we carry out important day-to-day tasks such as maintaining the equipment, assisting patrons and conducting tool trainings. Since all the student workers are also keen makers, we help design new tool trainings and provide feedback on the different facets of the makerspace.

That being said, the full-time professional staff at BeAM plays a big role in making BeAM the amazing space it’s known for. They have been amazing mentors to us and have set the standard for BeAM as a safe and innovative space.

What is the best part of being and working in the makerspaces?

The best part of working at the makerspace has to be the other student staff members who work there. Everyone brings a positive attitude and is always willing to help each other out. I feel like we’ve built a solid community of staff members, and it makes work more enjoyable for sure.

The highlight of my role has been helping create tool trainings. Building a comprehensive training is a challenging task that has enabled me to develop a lot as I figure out ways to make the information more easily digestible to patrons while still ensuring they learn all the necessary information. There is also a lot of freedom in how I create the trainings, which allows me to be creative as well.

How has your position at the makerspaces helped you develop skills you can use after college?

Working at the makerspace has definitely helped me prepare for my future career by teaching me how to communicate properly and how to be responsible and take ownership of my tasks. The full-time staff members have also helped me out professionally in terms of getting my resume put together and introducing me to key connections.

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