A Maker Space For The Ages

| November 14, 2018

The Baum Family Maker Space, which will establish a new hub for undergraduate student innovation, positions USC Viterbi as a leader in hands-on engineering learning.

Provost Michael Quick, Jim Baum, Judith Baum and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos at The Baum Family Maker Space celebration. (Photo/Steve Cohn)

Under a bright, blue Southern California sky, USC leaders, faculty, alumni, friends and even the Trojan band gathered at Epstein Plaza Nov. 8 to celebrate The Baum Family Maker Space, which will serve as a new hub for undergraduate student innovation. Attendees also came together to say a collective thank you to the Baum Family, the generous supporters behind this forward-looking facility set to open in spring 2020.

Set on the ground floor of the Science and Engineering Library on USC’s University Park Campus, The Baum Family Maker Space will serve as a multipurpose center for design and hands-on fabrication. It will consist of a machine shop, a wet lab, a 3-D shop, a paint booth and a design space and will be outfitted with 3-D printers, laser cutters, reconfigurable workbenches and other tools to support innovation.

The maker space “gives our tremendously entrepreneurial students a place to fail and a place to ultimately succeed and to change the world and invent the 21st century,” USC Provost Michael Quick said.

The Baum Family Maker Space will also include spaces dedicated to USC Viterbi’s distinguished student design and competition teams, such as SC Racing and the USC Rocket Propulsion Lab, allowing USC Viterbi to bring under one roof several different groups and activities currently dispersed throughout the campus.

(Photo/Steve Cohn)

During the festivities, speakers repeatedly thanked the Baums for their longstanding commitment to Troy. As chairman of USC Viterbi’s Board of Councilors, Jim Baum has long played an important role in the school’s success. He and his wife, Judith Baum, are proud parents to two USC Viterbi alumni: Lauren Nollette, B.S. BME ’01 and M.S. BME (medical device and diagnostic engineering) ’05; and Dwight James Baum II, B.S. ME ’99.

Jim Baum’s gift continues his family’s philanthropic tradition at USC. In 1995, he made an unsolicited donation to the SC Racing team that his son helped found. In 2000, Jim Baum’s father, Dwight C. “Bill” Baum, provided support to build the Baum Family Student Center in USC Viterbi’s Tutor Hall. He also endowed the Dwight C. and Hildagarde E. Baum Chair in Biomedical Engineering at USC Viterbi.

Jim Baum said he looked forward to USC students literally rolling up their sleeves and building great things in the future maker space.

“We need this,” he said. “The existing spaces that guys and girls are working in for the rocketry, cars and other teams are really cramped. We’re going to have a great environment.”

The “reimagining” of the first floor of the Science and Engineering Library into The Baum Family Maker Space represents a commitment by USC Viterbi and USC Libraries to create a top-tier engineering maker space, increasingly a goal of the nation’s best engineering schools, USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos said.

“Brick-and-mortar universities will increasingly be differentiated by their ability to cultivate new mindsets, let’s call them mindsets of growth – one of which is through activities that require hands-on and physical interaction, and requires places for our students to innovate and flourish,” he said.

“The Baum Family Maker Space,” Yortsos added, “will be exactly that cauldron of innovation, the place where ideas are conceived and tested, where leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration across the disciplines will be enduring and prevailing.”

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