It is in SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s DNA to make a difference, and often that means literally making things that can improve the world around us. For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, SUNY poly students, alumni, faculty, staff, accepted students, FIRST teams, and others 3D-printed thousands of protective face shield components which were delivered to medical facilities and first responders.
Another success includes a team of SUNY Poly engineering students who were recognized for taking first place at the 2019 CREATE Symposium for their innovation in designing a device that helps workers with disabilities in the Mohawk Valley do their jobs more easily and efficiently. The team, which consisted of students Ethan Mead, Hugh Harwood, JJ Besse, and Vincent Legnetto, took home a $15,000 award for their invention of a six-pack plastic yoke remover designed for a group of about 20 employees with disabilities who re-package beverage cans at an ARC facility in Marcy.
Now, SUNY Poly has been recognized (for these and other similar efforts highlighted below), by Make: and Newsweek, after the publications received nominations from a “unique global community of makers, educators, and Maker Faire leaders:
“This year for the first time Newsweek has teamed up with Make: publisher of Make: magazine and books, to find The Best Maker Schools in Higher Education. These are universities, community and junior colleges, vocational and trade schools with curricula that encourage learning by doing; are supported by educators committed to collaborative problem-solving; have well-developed makerspaces, labs, and studios; and which support diverse, interactive communities that engage in knowledge and skill sharing. Our goal was to highlight institutions with innovative programs that demonstrate the ingenuity and community engagement that are hallmarks of the maker movement.”
SUNY Poly was identified among only 200 other colleges and universities throughout the world, and the only SUNY school to be nominated, demonstrating “excellence or competency in the following areas:
- Integrated learning-through-doing orientation
- Mentoring / guidance / coaching for making
- Physical makerspaces / fablabs / workshops / studios
- Accessible spaces and tools that support independent, collaborative projects
- A diverse, active community of makers”
Among other maker resources and opportunities at SUNY Poly, the institution’s Utica campus is the site of The Center for Global Advanced Manufacturing (CGAM), an $11 million investment by the State of New York providing a state-of-the-art manufacturing space. The space provides rapid prototyping equipment, scanning and testing equipment, a maker space collaborative design studio and project room for use by students working on class projects, as part of a Maker Space project, or to conduct research. Students can learn how to use all the equipment in the CGAM space, providing them with a competitive edge at graduation.
Additional Maker efforts include, among others:
- SUNY Poly psychology students created Braille titles as part of a project-based learning assignment for the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABV).
- And in January, a mechanical engineering senior project team achieved semi-finalist status in the NASA-sponsored “Moon and Mars Ice and Prospecting Challenge,” in which student teams from around the nation compete to design, construct, and demonstrate a robot which in simulated lunar or Martian soil can drill through layers of regolith, rock, and ice, melt ice and extract liquid, and separate sediment from the water—with a $5,000 NASA stipend to support the construction of the robot.
- Alumna Christina Carambia created a sustainable startup, “Underground Greens,” which focuses on providing the community with year-round, non-GMO plants and produce. Underground Greens has been involved in numerous outreach efforts and Christina received numerous scholarships and awards which helped to support realization of her dream. More information is available here.
- SUNY Poly has also hosted the Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire in 2016, 2018, and 2019, featuring a lineup of dozens of makers of all types and interests each year, including experts from SUNY Poly who shared knowledge related to the institution’s Additive Manufacturing Lab. See more information here from 2019.
- SUNY Poly students in the Creativity and Ethical Venturing minor and business program developed award-winning, ethically driven business concepts ranging from civil social media alternatives to sustainable online farmers markets.
- Students in an inquiry-driven “wicked problems” course developed interactive, community-focused data-arts projects as ways to explore and communicate the possibilities and pitfalls of social media data collection.