MIT’s Engineers and Makerspaces Connect Through Student-Designed App

Mobius app provides students and faculty with searchable database of school’s maker facilities.

Accessing, booking and organizing any of the numerous makerspaces on the MIT campus has become easier for engineering students and faculty with the development of the Mobius App. Part of Project Manus, the app is the first phase in an initiative to establish MIT as the gold standard in academic maker systems.

Mobius, which was developed in partnership with MIT’s shop managers, alumni, faculty and engineering students, allows users to locate the specific machinery needed for their projects and connects them to schedules and maps that are otherwise unavailable online.

The app was designed by engineering students who know all too well the difficulties faced when trying to find space to work on a project.

Students are able to pay for materials, machine time and access fees through the app. Faculty and shop managers have the opportunity to look into a user’s abilities via an integrated endorsement and flagging system based on recommendations from other shops on campus.

The app will start with a database of 20 major campus workshops, including 3D printing labs and other prototyping machinery or facilities. Regular updates will expand the map to cover the whole campus, as well as what facilities each building has available. Identifying and locating a specific laser cutter or mill for your project has never been easier.

Future plans for the app include connecting makers to coordinate on projects or training, ratings of the makerspaces available and streamlining search functions.

Connecting students with appropriate maker facilities at MIT is at the center of the Mobius app’s design. (Image courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

Connecting students with appropriate maker facilities at MIT is at the center of the Mobius app’s design. (Image courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

“Knowing where certain machines are on campus, or even that they exist, will help people get things done and make more things,” said Rebecca Li, a mechanical engineering student and one of the app’s designers.

“The most important aspect of the app is the elimination of the unknown of whom to contact or whom to ask for access,” Li continued. “People will feel more confident knowing that they are talking to the right person who can get them help, instead of playing email ping pong as their project gathers dust.”

A searchable database of available resources is rarely readily accessible to students in large educational institutions and as such, the initiative and app are a major boon to MIT’s engineering community.

Mobius’ usefulness doesn’t stop at the campus walls either. Networking and connecting with other students and faculty and directing students to the most appropriate resources would benefit any large college or university, engineering-focused or otherwise.

Project Manus is an initiative led by MIT’s Provost Martin Schmidt and Professor Martin Culpepper, the “Maker Czar” who was also instrumental in developing the Mobius app. Mobius for iOS was made available to students in March 2016, with an Android version in development to be released May 2016.

For more information on the Mobius app, check out MIT’s website here.