Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

The Fimbel Lab is reserved for the Mount Holyoke College community, including all students taking Mount Holyoke College classes. Anyone meeting these requirements, regardless of background, is welcome to use the space. Academic projects are prioritized when there is high demand, and equipment availability may reflect this. We welcome collaboration with the Five Colleges if demand can be met.   

Guests

Our priority is to teach members of the Mount Holyoke community but we are happy to allow access to the general workspace to guests of approved members. We expect the member to be trained on any tools and equipment used by the guest. Any exceptions must go through the the Fimbel Lab staff. Only one guest can be brought at a time. The guest must agree to act according to our shared values and sign a waiver, which can be done when they arrive at the space. Members are given priority for attendance at workshops, but guests are welcome when there is space.

Children

Anyone under 18 years old must be accompanied by their own parent or legal guardian. They are considered the guest of the adult, and access follows guest rules.

There is no charge to use the space.

While the Fimbel Lab does not provide free materials, no one should walk away because they cannot afford their project. We sell commonly used materials and supplies and we have a scrap bin that is available for use. Students who help maintain and improve the space can earn points that can be exchanged for supplies.

Many courses provide materials for the students in the class. Some projects may be eligible for independent study credit. The proposal due dates and guidelines are available for Fimbel Lab funds each semester. For ambitious projects, our entrepreneurship affiliate, Rick Feldman, can provide mentoring on possible ways forward.

The general workspace is open during regular working hours, as well as when student Maker Consultants are available, usually until 9 pm. Up-to-date hours can be found on our calendar. Classes and workshops may be using the general workspace. Users are allowed to be present and working quietly on projects as long as they are not disruptive to organized activities.

We offer after-hours access to students pursuing academic projects for courses and independent study. For access when the Fimbel Lab is closed, we ask that you begin by attending an orientation and talking with a professional Fimbel Lab staff member. The metal and wood shop is only open when staff is present.

The Fimbel Maker and Innovation Lab is located in Prospect Hall, which is near the Willits Hallowell Conference Center and can be found on the campus map. Guest parking is available nearby.

Visit during open hours, join the mailing list, attend a workshop! Visit Reservations and Events to reserve equipment and sign up for events. All users must complete two forms before working in the space, the shared values form and a waiver for non-academic projects. Users must also go through orientation. One of the best ways to get started is to attend one of the scheduled orientations, which are listed in Reservations and Events.

You must act according to our shared values when in the space: Be respectful, clean up after yourself, be safe, ask for help. Beyond that, there are a few rules that are useful to know.

  1. Do not use any equipment you are not trained on.

  2. No food. Drinks must be in closed containers. Food and drink belong in the lounge.

  3. We are not a production studio. That is, you cannot make objects in the space that you plan to sell. You are welcome to prototype products in the space.

  4. Working in the metal and wood shop requires training on specific equipment, along with closed-toe shoes, long pants, tied-back hair and no loose jewelry or clothing.

  5. Tell the staff if you are bringing new materials into the space. We are required to keep material-safety data sheets available, and some seemingly innocent materials may pose hazards when heated or used in certain ways.  

Full policies can be found in the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab Handbook.

Using the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab is a privilege. If you do anything dangerous, use equipment without permission, do anything illegal, or are more generally a disruptive presence in the Fimbel Lab, we will take appropriate action. These may include loss of access or requiring further training or supervision on a tool.

Recognize that in order for the space to run smoothly, the staff needs to know what’s going on. If you break something, you need to tell the staff. Things will break. It’s usually not a violation of any policy. Even if it is, you need to tell the staff for the sake of everyone else.

We ask all users to swipe their IDs and fill out a short survey every time they enter the Fimbel Lab because we are tracking its usage. Our goal is to involve people from across the entire campus, as well as to provide access and staffing for the tools in highest demand at appropriate times. The information we gather helps us to make the space more inclusive and better organized. It helps us assess our effectiveness and advocate for additional resources from donors and foundations.

To that end, please take a few minutes to fill out our survey each time you enter the space.

Joining our mailing list is a great way to get notified on events happening in the space, or check out the calendar. Upcoming workshops and register for workshops on Reservations and Events.  

Projects, Equipment and Lab Staff

With the newly expanded Fimbel Lab, we are adding more equipment by the week. The up-to-date list of equipment and policies can be found at Reservations and Events.

It depends on what you’re trying to do. The first step is to talk with one of our staff. One of our student workers will help you understand what you need to learn in order to be successful — and help you immediately, in many cases.

You are always welcome to come during staffed hours and ask for help using equipment in the general workspace, such as the 3D printers and the laser cutter. Most hand tools and equipment in the general workspace are available without specific training. Equipment in the metal and wood shop requires training.

The best way to learn to use the equipment is to attend a training session. We strive to keep the space open for everyone without too much training required, but this can only happen if everyone stays safe and tools aren’t constantly broken. Therefore, everyone must go through an initial orientation. We try to accommodate these on a walk-in basis, but it’s best to take a scheduled tour. The tours provide a great opportunity to talk to staff about what you want to do.Their schedule can be found on the Reservations and Events page.

Equipment that must be booked ahead of time can be accessed on the Reservations and Events page. Be accurate in the amount of time that you reserve the equipment for. If you are planning an assignment or activity that will increase demand for any of the tools, please let us know ahead of time so that we can adjust as needed.

Each piece of equipment has its own policies and rules. To use certain equipment, you must first attend a training session. The most important thing is to feel confident that you will not damage yourself or the equipment, and to respect the needs of others. If you book time on equipment that requires supervision, someone will be there to help.

Yes. We have limited kits and tools. More information is available on the Reservations and Events page.

You can make anything — anything that is legal, safe and not directly sold for profit. Specifically

  1. You may not create weapons or drug paraphernalia.
  2. Use common sense for safety. No products that causes injury to the self, others or property in the making, testing or operation. Ask if you have any hesitations.
  3. Do not violate copyright laws.

You may not run a business out of Fimbel Lab. You are welcome to prototype products and pursue intellectual property rights. Mount Holyoke’s invention and patent policy has more information.

Yes. Even better, independent study projects are funded by the Fimbel Lab. We send out a call for independent studies at the start of every semester. Join the mailing list to get up-to-date information about submission deadlines and information about project proposal guidelines.

Yes. We are an academic makerspace. You are welcome to use the Fimbel Lab for all your academic needs. While the Fimbel Lab is also available for personal work, academic needs take priority when demand is high.

Yes. The Fimbel Lab is the perfect place to prototype your ideas. Mount Holyoke’s invention and patent policy has more information.

Yes. In such cases, students pay for all the materials used, and in some cases, equipment use. Copyrighted images and other content are strictly forbidden. All revenue from sale of these products must go to the student org.

Yes. The Fimbel Lab has two professional staff members who can usually be found during regular business hours, unless they are working with a class or otherwise engaged. Student workers, known as maker consultants, are available most evenings until at least 9 pm. The schedule can be found the Reservations and Events page. If you book time on equipment that requires supervision, someone will be there to help.

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are there to keep the Fimbel Lab running smoothly and help all users. While they do their best to mentor you on how to accomplish your goals, the Fimbel Lab is not a production shop. Some ideas may take a substantial time commitment on the designer’s part to learn how to turn them into tangible reality. We will work with you to realize your ideas.

Please understand that the staff have different levels of expertise on the equipment, and that there may be times when no one is immediately available to help. Failure to follow the instructions of the staff may result in disciplinary consequences.

The most important thing is to tell a worker so they can fix it and alert other users about the status of the tool. Try not to break things, Make sure you’re using common sense in everything that you do. Be aware of your surroundings. And if you break something, it’s okay.

Safety is the first and most important goal of the Fimbel Lab, which, by its very nature, contains sharp tools and powerful equipment, as well as sources of heat that can lead to burns and potentially harmful fumes. Safety precautions include a fume hood, spray booth and appropriate ventilation for use of chemicals. Training is required for all equipment and some requires supervision. Check the Reservations and Events page for more information.

As a community space, we ask that everyone to use common sense and courtesy to keep it safe. This includes cleaning up after yourself, putting tools away properly and alerting staff to anything unusual. Accidents are more likely to happen when people are tired, rushing or using the wrong tool. Plan ahead and ask for help.

Students

In addition to workshops, which generally offer short introductions to different technology, we offer a few classes every semester taught entirely in the space. These can be found in our email list and on the Reservations and Events page. You may want to consider CUSP 208: Fundamentals of Maker Culture, which we strongly encourage for anyone who interested in becoming a student maker consultant.

Typically, in order to assist with a class or department project, you must either be a student maker consultant or have been elected by a faculty or staff member. Email fimbellab@mtholyoke.edu if you are a frequent user and interested in becoming an authorized supervisor.

Want to run a workshop? Start a club? Train students in a specific skill? Have an idea to decorate the space? The first step is to contact us by emailing fimbellab@mtholyoke.edu.

The Fimbel Lab invites requests to visit or to host workshops for courses and student orgs and clubs on campus. Request a workshop or book the space through the Book MHC Fimbel Lab form.

Faculty and Staff

As soon as you know you are interested in teaching in the space, email fimbellab@mtholyoke.edu. We will follow up with questions about your proposed use, and can help develop or modify it, if appropriate. We prioritize classes that have few prerequisites, attract students from across the disciplines and cannot be taught elsewhere on campus.

Keep in mind: courses taught in the Fimbel Lab often have associated costs. Flexibility in selecting the course meeting time may be necessary. All faculty members teaching in the space must meet together before the semester begins in order to establish expectations.

We welcome requests to visit and to host workshops for courses. Workshops may be requested through the Book MHC Fimbel Lab form. If you are interested in bringing your students to the Fimbel Lab but uncertain what the right activity might be, please email fimbellab@mtholyoke.edu. We’ll work with you to come up with ideas.

Yes. Please tell us in advance, especially if students are likely to need tools that are often in high demand. If other courses have assignments due at the same time, we may suggest an alternate deadline. We also will let you know about possible technical problems that could delay completion.

If the entire class is required to use the space, please set up an orientation with us so we can introduce your students to the relevant tools. If you are encouraging students to explore the space but it’s not mandatory, do still let us know. We will reach out to the class and let them know how to get started.

Our staff is happy to talk with you about any and all ideas that you have. We are not a production shop. If you require significant assistance, we will help you develop a plan to learn what you need. As a rule, we are not here to do your project for you. Consider selecting a student to pursue an independent study to pursue the project. We will be happy to mentor them through the process.

In certain cases, such as if the object aids the accessibility of your course, we will have our staff make it for you, if we have the capacity.

Your department budget should cover costs, wherever possible. If you plan to do this every year, please include a request in your annual budget. Given that faculty members don’t always plan their lessons by February of the preceding year, we will work with you to find a way to implement your idea and find some funds. Generally, we do not charge for equipment use. But if you will be a heavy user of an expensive tools that consume supplies — for instance, laser cutter filters can cost $1,000 — we appreciate a contribution if your department has a budget that can accommodate.

Collaborating with the Fimbel Lab happens in many ways. If you would like to volunteer to host a workshop or teach a class, please email fimbellab@mtholyoke.edu. If you would like to schedule a visit or have a workshop for your class or department, please fill out the Book MHC Fimbel Lab form. The Fimbel Lab website includes past examples of programming. The Fimbel Lab Handbook has more information.

Collaboration is part of the makerspace DNA. We have enjoyed all of our collaborations across the campus and look forward to many more.

If understanding what we do is important to your role, such as admission or advancement, the Fimbel Lab can hold one-time or regular workshops and other events. We can be used for team-building projects. You are welcome to ask us about hosting an event that might interest your group.

If you need something made to help you in your work, please talk to us. If it’s involved and you do not have the staff time, consider hiring a student worker to complete the task. We know that there are many makers on campus and we are delighted to discuss collaborations.