Making the most of makerspaces

professors use makerspace

When John Kuykendall began his tenure as the dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Education, the idea of housing a makerspace on campus had been in development for several years. Launching the School of Education makerspace would become one of Kuykendall’s priorities during his first year. 

The School of Education makerspace was inspired by the notion that today’s teachers must have the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare PK-12 students for an innovation-driven economy. Makerspaces compel teachers to deliver content through “learning by doing,” immersing students in real-world projects that foster deep learning and understanding. A makerspace is a space where students can gather to create, invent and learn. Education makerspaces are housed on campus and allow people to share resources and collaborate and allow teachers to provide a “lab” where they can apply the lessons that are already occurring within the classroom. They combine education with a “do it yourself” strategy.

Last fall, the School of Education’s makerspace began operation, with programming that largely focuses on STEM fields, but is available to use in any way that professors and students can find to fit the curriculum. Ultimately the makerspace will help equip teachers with new skill sets that enable complex thinking, problem-solving, designing, collaborating, communicating and creating for today’s 21st-century student. 


“It was a connected effort within the University to get all this done,” Kuykendall said. He noted the efforts of Deb Sachs, assistant professor of education, who helped coordinate funding from a STEM education grant.

The University’s makerspace was aided in design by Indianapolis-based 1stMakerSpace, which builds and sustains in-school makerspaces. They partner with school districts to provide students with standards-based hands-on learning experiences to complement classroom learning strategies. The goal of these makerspaces is to inspire an authentic, rigorous and motivational environment by fostering creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

“1stMakerSpace challenged us to come up with ideas how the makerspace could be used in all of the courses that we teach,” Kuykendall said. “We don’t want to pigeonhole the faculty and think that the pedagogy has to be centered around the sciences. As more faculty learn how to use it, they can begin to use it more and more often for a variety of lessons.” 

The makerspace provides an added educational layer where students can actually manipulate a problem with their hands and eyes rather than only trying to visualize a solution. 

“We’re very excited about it. It will allow students to see, apply and practice what they’re learning,” Kuykendall said. “There’s often more than one way to solve a problem. Makerspaces allow the open creativity to do that. They allow for more communication and can become collaborative pieces of learning.”

professors use makerspace

Kuykendall said housing a makerspace within the School of Education puts UIndy “ahead of the game” in offering students more resources to be successful should they end up in a school system that utilizes makerspaces.

Even though the makerspace on campus is still in its beginning stages, Kuykendall is already focused on ways in which the program will grow. “We want to continue to develop it year after year and keep growing the tools inside the space,” he said, “As more students and faculty use it that will help us envision how it will grow.” Kuykendall also envisions hosting workshops and professional development opportunities for local schools.

“Ultimately, we want programming that will help our students to interact with their future students,” he said.

Inquiries about the availability of the makerspace can be directed to School of Education Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant Rhonda Helterbrand ( who is in charge of the scheduling and organization and management of the makerspace.

Greyhounds giving back: Tiffany Hanson ’06 selected as judge for ELEVATE Awards

Tiffany Hanson ’06 (communications, emphasis in public relations) was recently selected to be a judge for United Way of Central Indiana’s 2020 ELEVATE Awards. Hanson was selected to identify finalists for this year’s awards from nearly 100 applicants. Hanson currently serves as Outreach and Engagement Manager for LUNA Language Services and as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Indy Pride, Inc..

Hanson has become an excellent ambassador for UIndy and leads by example when it comes to serving others. “I am driven every day to help people in the work that I do and to make my community a better place. I would encourage all students (and alumni!) to consider taking time to reach out to your friends, neighbors, and strangers to understand how your time and talents can make the world a better place for those around you and allow that to drive your passion,” she said.. 

Below is a conversation with Hanson about her experience with service learning, judging for the ELEVATE Awards, and a career full of philanthropy and a passion for helping others.


How did you become involved with the ELEVATE Awards?

A couple of years ago I served on a planning committee for IndyVolved (a large annual nonprofit expo produced by IndyHub) with Ashleigh Wahl, who is in charge of planning for UWCI’s ELEVATE Awards. She and I have stayed connected since then and she was familiar with all of my community engagement work, so she reached out to me to be a judge. I was delighted to accept the honor of serving on the judges panel.


You’ve served in a lot of community-related roles. Why do you think that type of work is important for organizations to focus on here in central Indiana?

I think community-related work is important for people and organizations to focus on no matter the region. In every area of our country we can find neighbors and friends that need support. As someone who has a lot to be grateful for in my life, I feel it is important to share my time, talents, and resources with my community. 

I engage in a pretty robust amount of community work because my career allows it, but I believe that we all can make some time and space to donate resources to local community organizations to help everyone in our community to truly thrive. When our neighbors and friends thrive, then we thrive, and our businesses thrive too!


In your role as a judge, was there anything that struck you about the kind of philanthropy/volunteer/activist work that people are doing in the community?

One finalist that really stuck out to me was a local chef who had utilized their time and connections to support other nonprofit organizations. As someone who worked in restaurants for many years, I have really enjoyed seeing our local culinary scene explode over the past 10 years and it’s amazing to see what chefs can to do give back to the community.

When you think about it, bringing people together over a meal is one of the most common ways to gather and connect people from all backgrounds. Breaking bread together gives us a shared experience and opportunity to connect. For nonprofit organizations, this also gives them an excellent way to connect with their constituents to spread awareness of their services as well as with their donors to raise funds! I loved the fact that this local chef had used their unique talents to support the community in such an engaging way.


What advice do you have for current students who want to get involved in community activism/philanthropy?

I would suggest finding a nonprofit that aligns with something that you are truly passionate about and finding out how you can develop your own talents through donated work. For instance, my role with Indy Pride began as a volunteer position mostly managing their social media platforms, and it later turned into a paid position. 

As the Director of Marketing and Communications, I have been a part of a complete rebranding of the organization, launching a new website, managing four social media platforms, learning basic graphic design and assisting in promoting one of the largest parades in Indianapolis and the largest LGBTQ+ festival in the state! Many of those skillsets were very new to me before I had interacted with the organization and I was able to dive into those through my volunteer position and really create a reputation and niche career for myself.  

I would also suggest utilizing volunteer opportunities to build your network. Connect with leaders and members of the Board of Directors for the organization that you volunteer your time with that are doing work in the career fields you may be interested in. Ask them about their career pathways and for advice. Learn from the work that they have done to guide your own career decisions. They may even be able to assist you in finding a job opportunity down the road!

About United Way of Central Indiana

United Way addresses generational poverty in Central Indiana and to be selected as a judge for this honorary role requires a strong understanding of the Central Indiana landscape, demonstrated working knowledge and accomplishments in areas of community impact, and a passion for service in various areas ranging from volunteerism to board membership.

Pack the House amped up the celebration in 2020

Greyhounds filled Nicoson Hall in support of the UIndy Women’s and Men’s basketball teams as they competed against the Truman State University Bulldogs for a conference matchup on Saturday, February 15.

Women’s tip-off was at 1 p.m. and the men’s team tip-off was at 3 p.m. for a back-to-back showdown. In addition to cheering on the basketball teams, UIndy celebrated all fall athletes for their record-breaking 2019 seasons.

The fun began with a pre-game block party at 11:30 a.m. in Ruth Lilly Health & Fitness Center with tasty snacks, inflatables, life-size Jenga, face painting, and a guest appearance by UIndy’s Live Mascot, Grady.

Back this year was the chance for one lucky student to take a half-court shot for a chance at free tuition for one semester. Students could also enter to win Billie Eilish concert tickets, which were given away during the men’s basketball game.

A post-game celebration at UIndy’s neighbor, Books & Brews at 3308 Shelby St., followed, featuring live band Shift Bit Duo. 

Go Hounds!

Getting included in the conversation – Amber Smith looks to turn small wins into big gains in inclusion and equity

Amber R. Smith

Amber Smith

In her former role at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Amber Smith’s mission was to change lives for the better. Smith served underrepresented populations and implemented a program that provided students the opportunity to connect with the institution, provide wraparound services and ultimately increase traditionally low graduation rates. “That was the first time I got a specific mission tied to the overarching strategy of the institution,” she said. “I felt like I was impacting change. Not just in students’ lives, but for the institution as a whole.”

A second project, helping underrepresented populations bypass remediation before entering their first year of college through a summer program, was enough to establish Smith in a field she would quickly become passionate about and look for ways to expand her impact. “I began to learn how inclusivity and equity can help positively impact an organization, both from a bottom-line perspective as well as the overall culture of the organization,” she said. “Getting the chance to influence organizational change, that was very intriguing to me.”

Smith, who started at the University of Indianapolis as its Vice President for Inclusion and Equity in January, now turns her focus on advancing those goals in the Circle City. Smith sees the pursuit of equity and inclusion as a campus-wide effort with the goal of her office to help people understand how to connect without fear of vulnerability. Smith wants to work with different colleges and departments independently so that initiatives are specifically tailored.

“Everyone has the goal of being more inclusive and creating equitable opportunities,” she said, “but that looks different for everyone. It isn’t one size fits all.”

She sees her role as a consultant to help examine issues, plan initiatives and eventually bring them to fruition. Especially early in her tenure, her role will be that of information gathering. She plans to do this through a series of interviews and focus groups, SWOC (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges) analyses, and surveys to students, staff and faculty. “Feedback is of paramount importance,” she said. 

Inclusivity and equity are goals that everyone can agree are worthy to pursue—but what do they mean for an academic institution? The mission for the Office of Inclusion and Equity states that “our institution is incomplete without embracing cultural differences and diversity within our student body and workforce.” Putting that in her own words, Smith says “We are all on our own quest. While we’re on it, it feels good to know that we are supported. Not ‘regardless of’ but ‘because of’ our unique differences. Learning and connecting over those differences is how we are all able to belong.”

This is no small task, of course. On a college campus, and in the world at large, there are a near infinite amount of perspectives to consider. Smith says it is important to realize that perception is reality for many people, and that the discussion of inclusivity and equity must start where individuals are mentally in order to make small, incremental changes.

“Sometimes we despise small beginnings, so we don’t recognize the power of small wins,” she said. “When a person evolves from where they are, they can feel that small win. And small wins grow into larger wins.”

Smith says it is important to realize that there are reasons that people have the perspectives that they do. Their personal experiences are informative, and you might not always have the benefit of understanding why they feel the way that they do. “That is evidence in their mind that their approach is right,” she said. “My job is to help them see things in a different light. We must inform – while being careful to not invalidate their experiences.”

Smith also recognizes that one of the biggest roadblocks in achieving equity is that many people look backwards and see large amounts of progress in inclusivity, but still fail to see the continued room for progress in the future. “It’s about moving from the mere presence of diverse populations to the inclusion of diverse individuals, and we all have a role to play,” she said.

“My position is one where I’m able to help people identify a role, help people understand the role they play based on their gifts, talents and experiences and how to execute on that.”

Smith expects students will play a vital role in expanding this discussion on UIndy’s campus. She intends to seek out student opinions and discover their unique experiences. “Coming to the table and voicing how they feel will help me better understand how to do my job effectively,” she said. 

Working together with students, faculty and staff, Smith anticipates UIndy forging ahead in the mission of the Office of Inclusion and Equity, fostering a positive environment and turning UIndy into a leading and aspirational educational institution.

“My vision is to create a space where you can be unapologetically you, and where who you are is someone that belongs,” she said. “Unapologetic doesn’t mean combative in this instance, the tone is one of belonging. It’s not a fight. You are who you are, and you are included.”

Pack Away Hunger 2020

University of Indianapolis students, faculty, staff and their families packed 55,000 meals for people in need on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. About 225 volunteers participated in the University’s annual “Pack Away Hunger” event to package the meals, which will be distributed to Indianapolis-based organizations serving families in need. This is the fifth consecutive year UIndy has participated in Pack Away Hunger, and during that time we’ve packed around 250,000 meals for local families in need.

The event received media coverage from news outlets including WISH-TV, WTHR-TV and Fox 59.


Pack Away Hunger works to battle hunger in Indianapolis and all over the world. The focus of Pack Away Hunger is to provide nutritious meals for families. Each Nutri-Plenty™ meal that is produced provides vitamins and minerals, and contains a healthy mixture of rice, soy, vegetables and flavorings.

R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosts FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event

The R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosted the annual FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event in early January. Dozens of high school students from around the state received their challenge to design, build, program and test a robot within six weeks. 

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

It’s all part of the INFINITE RECHARGE FIRST RISE℠, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a worldwide challenge for young inventors to test their mettle and collaborative skills, organized locally by IndianaFIRST. R. B. Annis School of Engineering faculty and students provided presentations, met with students, and offered a VR experience of the newly-released game field. 

At Saturday’s Kickoff, teams were shown the INFINITE RECHARGE game field and challenge details for the first time, and received the Kickoff Kit of Parts, which is made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components. With limited instructions students, working with experienced mentors, have about six weeks to create their robots to meet the new 2020 season’s engineering challenge. Once the teams build a robot, students will participate in one or more of the Indiana district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

New challenging game elements in the game INFINITE RECHARGE make for a complicated strategy with many options. INFINITE RECHARGE has high school robotics team students around the world eager to capture a championship. After the game was revealed Saturday, students immediately began brain-storming and drawing up initial designs for robots that will compete at several events this season. Teams have about 6 weeks to build their robots before the competition season begins.

During the FIRST build season, multiple UIndy faculty, staff, and students assist local FIRST teams with their robots, including the fabrication of parts using the R. B. Annis School of Engineering’s fabrication facilities.

More than 250 students graduate at University of Indianapolis December 2019 Commencement

The University of Indianapolis held its December Commencement Ceremony on Saturday before a capacity crowd in Ransburg Auditorium.

More than 260 students graduated from the University of Indianapolis in December, including 198 undergraduates, 56 graduate and 7 doctoral students. The total number of University of Indianapolis graduates for 2019 (May, August and December combined) stands at 1,534 students, with 1,030 undergraduate, 371 graduate, and 133 doctoral students. Graduates from 2019 hail from 25 countries.

President Rob L. Manuel encouraged graduates to pursue great ideas through community-building, service and passion.

“You are now and forever will be a part of our story. You are now part of the UIndy quilt – a tapestry woven together over more than 110 years,” Manuel said.

The ceremony included a full academic procession, performances by Department of Music students and the National Anthem performed by Brionna Coats ’23 (music).

Emily Slaven, University of Indianapolis 2019 Teacher of the Year, will provide the Commencement address. Slaven is an associate professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, where she serves as director of the Orthopedic Residency Program.

Dr. Slaven sent graduates off with three pieces of advice: Be proud of their accomplishment and do not undervalue the time and effort that went into graduation; find something you are passionate about and work toward it; and to give back and help the community.

Student speaker Eric Kabuthia ’19 (Master of Arts, international relations) reflected on what he deemed the greatest lesson he learned at UIndy: learning to unapologetically be yourself.

“UIndy is the place where you become more, the place where you become ready to face the world, this is the place where you emerge you,” said Kabuthia.

Indianapolis student earns prestigious Richard G. Lugar award

RoseSchnabelRose Schnabel will receive the $1,000 award on Saturday, Dec. 7, during the 43rd annual Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at Ransburg Auditorium at the University of Indianapolis. The event gathers more than 400 of Indiana’s top high school juniors at the University for an expert discussion on pressing public issues and world events. Mr. Steve Inskeep, a native Hoosier and host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, will deliver the keynote address.

“I am honored to receive the 2019 Distinguished Student Leadership Award,” said Schnabel, who will give a short acceptance speech at the symposium. “Hearing from other Hoosier teenagers about their communities at the 2018 Symposium helped me to reflect on my own community and ways I could improve it. This award gives me support to continue working towards my goal of promoting healthy eating in the chronic disease community.”

The highly competitive award honors students for academic success, leadership and a proven commitment to serving others. Each applicant must complete an application and draft an essay on one of three topics. Schnabel chose to describe how she has used innovation and collaboration, two hallmarks of a good leader as identified by Senator Lugar, to create new solutions to complex problems.

In her essay, Schnabel discussed her experience creating a mobile application that serves as a recipe and nutrition guide for people affected by chronic disease. What started as a small project to help her grandmother, Schnabel soon realized her work could help others. She taught herself to code, consulted with chefs about healthy eating and designed the user interface for the app herself before launching it within her school community.

Ken McDaniel, the girls’ soccer head coach at the International School of Indiana, wrote in the award application about Schnabel: “Rose has shown an ability to establish an excellent rapport with a variety of constituents, including teammates, coaches, students and administrators. She is genuinely interested in helping others reach their goals in a positive and helpful manner.”

The activities in which Schnabel is involved include:

  •     Model United Nations, Head Delegate
  •     Spanish Honor Society, Co-president
  •     Varsity Tennis and Soccer, Team Captain
  •     Indiana University School of Adolescent Medicine Advisory Board
  •     United Way volunteer
  •     Project STEM Intern at Eli Lilly & Co.

About the Lugar Academy

More than 20,000 promising students have participated in the Lugar Symposium during the past 40 years, gaining wisdom, insight and access to some of the finest minds available. Principals from every high school in Indiana are asked to select three outstanding student leaders from their junior class to attend the Symposium. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (April 4, 1932 – April 28, 2019) served as a Distinguished Trustee, a former professor of political science and received an honorary degree from the University of Indianapolis, among 46 colleges and universities which bestowed Lugar with the same honor during his lifetime. Lugar was a fifth-generation Hoosier who left the United States Senate as the longest-serving member of Congress in Indiana history. The symposium that bears his name was launched in 1977 as an opportunity to discuss with students topics of local and global importance.

UIndy’s live mascot program returns

Grady the Greyhound, UIndy's third live mascot in school historyThere’s a new hound in town! The University of Indianapolis introduced its new live mascot, Grady the Greyhound, on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 

Grady, a two-year-old retired racer adopted from Florida, joins Ace the mascot to increase spirit and pride throughout the entire University community.

His debut marks the first time in nearly 40 years since the last live mascot, “Timothy O’Toole,” proudly represented UIndy (then known as Indiana Central University). Grady is the third live mascot in school history.

Grady’s full name is C. Greyson Veritas, a nod to the school colors of crimson and grey, and the Latin word for “truth,” which formed part of the University seal when it was known as Indiana Central College (as part of the saying, “Truth through faith and science.”)

Visit to learn more about the live mascot program and to see Grady’s upcoming schedule of events.

The University of Indianapolis is grateful to the Indianapolis chapter of the Greyhound Pets of America for their assistance throughout the adoption process. 

Jessica Parra ’20 chosen for Axis Leadership Program

Jessica Parra '20

Jessica Parra ’20

University of Indianapolis senior Jessica Parra was recently named as part of the Axis Leadership Program’s 2020 cohort. Parra will graduate in May 2020 with a double major in political science and Spanish, a minor in international relations and a concentration in multilingual translation.

Axis is an eight-month leadership program designed for Latino professionals between the ages of 21-28 to develop personally and professionally and to prepare them to engage with civic and community leadership activities. Upon completion, Axis participants will be equipped and prepared to unify, transform and serve the community.

The program is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis and Indiana Latino Expo. Class members are chosen through a competitive process based on their community involvement, personal vision and achievement.

“I am so grateful to be chosen as a participant for the 2020 Axis Leadership Program,” said Parra. “I believe that this experience will allow me to grow professionally and further my involvement within the Latino community here in Indianapolis.”

About the program
The concept of the Axis Leadership Program began as part of Mayor Hogsett’s Latino Advisory Council as a significant lack of Latino leadership was noted within the Indianapolis community. This program was a dream of many long-standing Latino leaders including Former Advisory Council member Carmen DeRusha, whose unrelenting leadership to see a leadership program come to fruition inspired the leadership team to develop the Axis Leadership Program.

Axis is led by a six-person leadership team: Gloria Jimenez, Jordan Rodriguez, Yecenia Tostado, Guadalupe Pimentel Solano, Angela Brito de Rodriguez and Fabio Yataco.

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