A Maker Space for Oceangoing Innovations

Jul 24, 2017

Maker spaces have popped up everywhere, typically outfitted with tools and materials that allow people to try making their prototype dreams a reality. Now, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has just launched a maker space for ocean-related innovations called “Dunk Works,” a play on Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works lab.

It’s stocked with the 3-D printers and other machines that you might expect for rapid-prototyping of underwater robotics. To build it, WHOI used $784,000 of a larger $5 million grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a grant that requires a financial commitment from WHOI, as well.

“Here at Woods Hole, we send things out to sea, which is a very risky, very expensive endeavor,” said Leslie-Ann McGee, Assistant Director at the Center for Marine Robotics at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Center for Marine Robotics manages Dunk Works.

“We want to make sure we make the best innovations we can, test them, and iterate on them before they end up out at sea,” she said.

Dunk Works has everything from basic woodworking tools and wire crimping machines to a large 3-D printer that can produce up to a 3x3 foot object.

As of August 1, the facility will be open to the external marine robotics and affiliated community on a membership-fee basis, McGee said.

“During the ‘discovery’ period, the Center for Marine Robotics will be implement and unveil a registration process for external users,” according to the Dunk Works web site.