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Although I did not know what necessarily to expect when I arrived as the new intern at the Scrap Exchange, the work that I have begun there has proved highly satisfying and rewarding so far. As our first large project, my supervisors have asked me and my DukeEngage colleague (and new friend!), Sarah Sculco, to assist the Scrap Exchange in redesigning their design center based off of other makerspace models.

Having never heard of the word “makerspace” prior to working at the Scrap Exchange, I believe that the word merits a bit of explanation: a makerspace, sometimes called a hackerspace depending on the equipment available, is a collaborative work space where tools and equipment are shared among members of space. In the Scrap Exchange, this equipment includes numerous sewing machines, sergers, a die-cut machine, hot t-shirt maker, button maker, and more. This project has a long-term scope, yet I believe that I have already become leaps and bounds more knowledgeable on the design center in Scrap Exchange and the eclectic variety of tasks to be done around the Scrap Exchange every day! Never before have I felt so much tangible progression in work in which I had no previous experience, and I believe that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to work at the Scrap Exchange this summer.

My anxieties about entering a team of people who have worked together for a while and being potentially treated as an outsider were completely put to rest just after my first day. Each and every member of the Scrap Exchange team is happy to see new faces and incredibly kind, which has made my transition into working there filled with ease. Additionally, having a fellow DukeEngage participant on site has made the work more fulfilling and enjoyable. Together, Sarah and I have partitioned work according to what we enjoy and excel at more; even though we think differently and have different work styles, we truly complement each other in a way that makes our work significantly better than it would be were there only one of us working this summer.


Last Friday, we visited Splat Space, a hackerspace with high-tech equipment, in order to get a sense of what membership and organizational models other makerspaces use for day-to-day operations. In the entrance room, the community had created a vintage-style video game using an open-source code—pretty cool!

The metalworking room at Splat Space.

Sarah working hard on our sign for the design center by cutting out large letters from banners being reused at the Scrap Exchange!

An example of the miscellaneous tasks that we might help with around the retail section of the Scrap Exchange—assessing antique books and pricing them! This job is especially fun for Sarah and me, as we find truly unique and interesting books every time we come back to price more books. This is one of the best aspects about working at the Scrap Exchange: there’s never a dull moment. There are always tasks that need to be worked on, and we never fully know what we might end up doing each day.