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About the QC Makerspace

This guide will introduce you to the makerspace. Like most things this guide is a 'work in progress' & is continually updated.

The list below is a compilation of terms, expressions, phrases, or 'words of art' that you may hear staff use when talking about or describing abstract concepts or physical things. This is our attempt to provide a glossary of terms. For example you may hear us say "QC makerspace," "the makerspace," or "the lab" interchangeably; "the lab" is a quick way to refer to our facility, while "QC makerspace" is our official name. Which expression we use may depend on the context in which we're using it.

If we say something you're unsure about, simply search here or online, and we're certain you will find a wealth of knowledge to pursue.


  • breadcrumb - this area of the Learn Guides navigation is known as the breadcrumb:breadcrumbThe breadcrumb is how information is organized in this guide system. Spend some time learning to navigate via the breadcrumb and you'll save yourself a lot of mental anguish!


  • CAD - Computer-Aided Design. The computer is simply a tool, thus our emphasis on the word "aided." The computer merely aids us in our quest to design objects for 2D and/or 3D applications. Many of the objects you interact with today were designed in CAD. CAD has a long & rich history, and you've likely interacted inside of CAD space before even if you didn't know what it was called (Minecraft anyone?). CAD is also the forerunner to 3D-printing, AR/VR, and other modern toolkits.


  • CAM - You may occasionally hear this term used. The M is for Manufacturing and refers not only to the physical making of things (most often from CAD), but the entire manufacturing process. E.g. 3D-printing may be a hobby, or it may be part of your CAM workflow.


  • FDM - When it comes to 3D-printing the lab is focused on FDM. (Some people use the term 'FFF' - the terms are interchangeable, and since we're not violating any trademarks, we say 'FDM' simply because it's easier to pronounce.) Search 'FDM' to learn more.


  • LinkedIn Learning - Please take advantage of this service. As CUNY students you have free, unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning content. Focused on three top-level categories - Business, Creative, & Technology - they have thousands of videos, courses, and learning paths, all broken down by skills, software, subjects, etc. Some great examples are this 1h33m course for learning TinkerCAD, any of Von Glitschka's Illustrator tutorials, or their more-than 3,000 videos on Python. Register with your email for free access.


  • #QCmakers - we refer to our collective membership and community as #QCmakers. Use the hashtag on our active social channels and we'll chime in!


  • .STL - the preferred file format for preparation for 3D-printing. .STL files are not the actual "3D-printer file," they are simply the contours of a 3D shape, itself composed of x-number of vertices, a "triangular mesh." Put another way, .STL is the outline, which you then import to 3D-printer software in order to prepare the outline for printing. STL stands for STereoLithography - itself a type of 3D-printing - and has been in use since 1987. These days .STLs are commonly developed in programs like TinkerCAD and shared on websites like Thingiverse, SketchUp's 3D Warehouse, Prusa Printers, MyMiniFactory, and many more.


  • "the lab" - we'll use this phrase a lot! It's a quick way to say 'the entire makerspace facility.'


  • "the maker movement" - from homemade synths to "no-sew" clothing modifications to online learning portals, the maker movement is happening right now. It's the culmination of decades of technological and social advancements: the ascendance of open-source software, the invention of the modern Internet, the coalescing of communities to share tools and resources, even rent. It's in the books we read, the links we share, the tools & projects we invent to improve our lives.


  • TinkerCAD - this software is a great place to get started with CAD! This is software that operates 'in the cloud,' no app or download required. It does require you to create an account. Once shapes are designed you can easily export your files - preferably in ".STL" format.


  • "your @qc email" - we'll often say this as shorthand for "the email address provided to you by Queens College" - if you are a student this is your account and if you are staff this is your account -- that's just too long to say all the time so we shortened it to "your @qc email." TL;DR: use your official QC email account, not a personal email account, for all QC-related communications.


  • Zones - the makerspace is partitioned into various "zones." Depending on which "zone" you are in the safety rules may differ. For example if you're working with hand tools & power tools you absolutely must wear safety glasses. You don't need to wear safety glasses when designing CAD objects, but if you're soldering or working physically with a 3D-printer, should you? How do 'best practices' inform your decision? "Zones" are both physical & mental spaces for determining best practices. Our current zones include:
    • the CAD/CAM Zone (aka "the 3D-Printing Zone")
    • Hand Tools & Power Tools
    • Digital Stitching Zone
    • Electronics Zone
    • COMM Zone
    • Documentation Station
    • Storage