Sponsorship provides Kettering University students access to Flint's Factory Two makerspace

Kettering University is a proud sponsor of Factory Two, a building that is getting new life in the city of Flint. The space is now designed and remodeled as a makerspace.

Kettering University is partnering with community leaders to help bring back a piece of history.

The University is a proud sponsor of Factory Two, a building that is getting new life in the city of Flint. The space is now designed and remodeled as a makerspace and thanks to Kettering’s partnership, all Kettering students will have access to the facility at no cost.

Factory Two is located at 129 N. Grand Traverse St. in a former manufacturing facility built more than 100 years ago by Dort Motor Car Company. This site is now an opportunity for Flint entrepreneurs and artists. It’s located just a mile from Kettering University along Water Street.

“Factory two represents all the things that many Kettering Students enjoy including hands on projects and  making unique, entrepreneurial minded inventions. It’s exciting for our students,” said Jack Stock, Kettering’s Director of External Relations. “It’s so convenient and enriches the University Avenue Corridor even further.”

The makerspace has been operating elsewhere for two years, but this new location allows for a dramatic expansion of space, equipment and programming. Included in the gear on site will be 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, a CNC router, a silk screen press, wood and metal shops, bike repair and more.

Kettering students have more than just access to the space -- they helped create it. Students turned their community service opportunities into a chance to help make the space a success. Students from Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi fraternities helped move and set up the makerspace.

For the students, it was an opportunity to learn more about the community.

“Being able to see the space and participate in it gives us an opportunity to be involved in the community and have a sense of ownership in it because we had a chance to help build it up,” said Adam Lecznar ‘19, Vice President of Communications for Beta Theta Pi.

The students were involved in two service opportunities. The first, which included both Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi, had students disassembling a room full of furniture and moving items from their old space in the Dryden Building in downtown Flint to the new space. On the second service day, Beta Theta Pi members helped organizers build and set up at Factory Two, from computer workstations to a co-working space.

“We’re lucky they sent us engineers. It looked like a tornado hit an IKEA and there was a lot of assembly to tackle,” said Dave Johnson, Factory Two staff member.

The collaboration came together through a connection at the University Avenue Corridor Coalition. The UACC, founded by Kettering in 2013, works to improve the area between Kettering and University of Michigan-Flint, Hurley Medical Center and the Flint River.

Stock noticed that the corridor was getting some new neighbors and wanted to offer assistance.

“I was not surprised at the strong student response. What is especially nice is our students being able to more fully understand what is going on at Factory Two with its makerspace. And they had fun doing service,” Stock said.

Operated by Red Ink Flint, plans for Factory Two evolved from Steamworks, a smaller makerspace above Local 432. Preview Night for the new facility will take place May 9 from 5-7 p.m.

Ari Budiono ‘18, member of Beta Theta Pi, was able to attend both service days at Factory Two and learned something about the building and the community in the process.

Factory Two was built in 1916 by J. Dallas Dort for his newly launched Dort Motor Car Company. A state-of-the-art production facility, it operated as final assembly for the line of Dort factories strung along Water Street. Automobiles were built on site until 1926 when the death of Dort lead to the company being sold off.

“The new space and the investment into Factory Two showed how much people are trying to make a difference. There are a lot of people trying to do good for Flint,” Budiono said. “But they need help. I encourage others to get involved.

“It’s fun to get involved. If you help the community the community will help you. It makes things more exciting and opens up opportunities for others.”

The partnership with Factory Two and Kettering students makes sense. Both are ingrained with history of the automotive industry. And a makerspace allows Kettering students to use their engineering and entrepreneurship knowledge and skills.

The makerspace is a facility where members of the community can access tools, equipment and training that might not be available elsewhere.

Running the operation is Jon Hardman. He possesses a diverse background that includes overseeing the bike co-op in East Lansing and various tech and computer jobs. Hardman sees a great link between Factory Two and Kettering University.

“It's great having Kettering students around. With their STEM background and eagerness to apply what they're learning Factory Two will be the perfect place to test those skills,” he said.

While the programming is still being finalized, some regular activities are already coming together. Open Shop will take place on Tuesday nights (membership not required). Wednesdays will host Game Space, a board game night. There will also be regular workshops covering how to use various pieces of equipment, intro to bike repair and support for entrepreneurs and start-ups.

For more information about Factory Two visit https://www.facebook.com/FactoryTwo/, or e-mail jon@factorytwo.org.

Written By Sarah Schuch | Contact: Sarah Schuch - sschuch@kettering.edu - (810) 762-9639