What’s it like to work at the MakerSpace?

Meet some of the students who keep the wheels turning and the motors humming

On the left is graduate assistant, Cinerita Andrandes, on the right is TA, Thomas Belinky

Cinerita Andrandes (on the left), and Thomas Belinky (on the right), two of the teaching assistants working in the Makerspace.

It takes many people to ensure that NYU Tandon’s 10,000-square-foot MakerSpace runs well, and its staff includes a large cadre of team leads, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and coordinators drawn from the student body.

But working at the MakerSpace is much more than just a student job; it can be a pathway to self-confidence, learning, personal growth, and a sense of community, as the students below will attest.

Cinerita Andrandes (M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, ‘24)

When Cinerita Andrandes graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mumbai’s Fr. Conceicao Rodrigues Institute of Technology in 2021, she set her sights on finding a master’s program that would allow her to focus on robotics and mechatronics. At NYU Tandon, she not only found the exact type of program she had envisioned but a MakerSpace that has been described as a veritable playground for engineers.

Now a MakerSpace graduate assistant, she has responsibility for maintaining and repairing a variety of machines, including 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, and the futuristic-looking UR16 robotic arm, as well as giving workshops and tutorials on that equipment. The role allows her to engage in her longtime passion — creating and building things — and among her other favorite tasks is preparing detailed manuals that clearly outline the procedures involved in using and troubleshooting the equipment, which allows her to leverage her interest in writing. (In her rare free moments, she enjoys penning short stories, she explains.) 

Ask Cinerita — who also serves as a project manager and systems engineer on NYU’s Robotic Design Team — how she has benefitted from working at the MakerSpace, and the list is a lengthy one. “My confidence has skyrocketed,” she asserts. “My first semester, I was somewhat passive; I followed instructions but never actually took the lead on anything, but that has totally changed, and now I’m always ready to show initiative when I see something that needs to be done.” She continues, “I’ve also really honed my communications skills, since I’ve had to get comfortable leading workshops and training people to use what can be very complex equipment.” 

She intends to get a job in industry once she earns her degree and has one important piece of wisdom for any student who fills her MakerSpace job once she leaves NYU Tandon. “Say yes as often as you can,” Cinerita advises. “Don’t overthink it or doubt yourself. At the MakerSpace, you’re going to find a community that really wants you to succeed at anything you tackle and will help you do that, so don’t be worried about failure.”

Thomas Belinky (B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, ‘24)

The COVID pandemic may have derailed Thomas Belinky’s first semester somewhat, but as soon as he arrived in Brooklyn, he made a beeline for the MakerSpace. 

If he wasn’t in a class or lab, he was at 6 MetroTech, familiarizing himself with equipment like computer numerical control (CNC) machines and lathes, and dreaming up manufacturing projects. “I was there every possible waking moment,” he recalls. “I spent more time than even many of the paid teaching assistants, so when a post opened up, Elizabeth New, the manager of the MakerSpace, encouraged me to apply.”

Thomas — who lived in Madrid, Barcelona, and London before coming to the U.S. to study — admits that he was extremely introverted as a child, and that trait had grown more pronounced during the pandemic. “Being a TA is a customer-facing job though, and a lot of our projects are collaborative,” he says, “So working at the MakerSpace helped me flex that particular muscle and get comfortable interacting with people.” That just might be an understatement. His current title is head of training and development, meaning that he has responsibility for teaching students, faculty, and staff to operate the MakerSpace’s many tools safely and properly and for training new TAs (30 under his watch, at last count). He is also a member of NYU Motorsports, a team in the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) initiative that designs and builds off-road vehicles to race.

At the MakerSpace, Thomas found co-workers, team members, mentors and mentees, who collectively form a vibrant community. “We’re all techies, of course,” he says, “but we’re also all creative. I have been inspired by so many of the people I’ve met here, and I hope I’ve been an inspiration to some of them as well.” 

But after so many hours, interactions, and projects, has being at the MakerSpace lost any of its luster? According to Thomas, that would be impossible. “I love it as a student  and aspiring mechanical engineer. I love it as a TA, and I love it — and take a lot of pride in it — simply as someone at Tandon,” he says. “I anticipate that I’ll love it as an alum too.”