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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Campus Factory club develops two student-made prototypes

Daniel Taverne walks Meg Harris through how to use a table saw Monday, June 1, at The Foundry. // Photo courtesy of Sam Weaver
Daniel Taverne walks Meg Harris through how to use a table saw Monday, June 1, at The Foundry. // Photo courtesy of Sam Weaver

The Campus Factory club gives students opportunities to engineer, design, create and market their own products, and with two prototypes currently in development, members are looking toward the club’s future.

Chief human resource officer Cade Ray is trying to find a new space for the club, and said it would be important for the club to actually have a market on campus.

“I really have a dream of creating a place in the bookstore where we could sell our products to the student body,” Ray said.

The two developing prototypes, a shot glass holder and a desktop potting plant, are among products senior and co-founder Joshua Baker said will appeal to Western students and the larger Bellingham demographic.

The club includes students from departments like industrial design, business management, manufacturing supply chain management, environmental policy and marketing.

“This is a diverse club filled with like-minded individuals. But at the same time, individuals with strengths that are needed to combat my weaknesses,” Baker said when discussing trying to get a horticulturist to help on the planting pot.

Each member does their part in the process of creating a product, whether it’s designing the first prototype or thinking of ideas for marketing it to the student body and the public.

“There is something special about designing and creating something,” sophomore and co-founder Sam Weaver said. “I wanted to create an opportunity for kids on campus in other departments, who don’t get that hands-on approach.”

Weaver said the idea for the club came to him last summer when he realized he wanted to use his love for business and design to simulate an actual business.

Business student Daniel Taverne along with the two other co-founders began meeting every Thursday during fall quarter to plan out the new club.

Weaver added that many of the departments don’t give students the opportunity to finish making a product they designed in class.

Taverne said along with the standard procedure to apply to be a club, which includes a constitution, the co-founders created a 28-page business plan on what they would be doing as an organization.

“We want to impact everybody who wants to be impacted by what we do, designing products and getting real-world business experience,” Taverne said. “We want everyone to be on board.”

For new members to join, they must submit a resume and personal statement on why they want to join and go through an interview process.

“We aren’t going to reject anybody, but if you aren’t willing to go through those steps then that’s good for us because we want dedicated people,” Taverne said.

Taverne is the chief financial officer for Campus Factory and said his main goal is for the non-profit club to be self-sustaining, with any sales from products being directly returned back into the club.

Baker added that he wanted the future of the club to include partnering with companies like Boeing and suppliers to get materials the companies may throw away and use them for future Campus Factory prototypes.

“Right now we’ve been pulling money out of our pockets and going to the lumber yard and pretty much ‘DIYing’ it,” Baker said. “That is what we are about, we are going to find a way to do it.”

Baker and other members built the shot glass holder at Weaver’s house, doing all the building themselves.

“We went out to his garage and just got messy, we had a lot of fun,” Baker said.

Baker said he hopes a year from now the club will have its own space with the tools necessary to design and build its products.

“When companies like Boeing are looking for people to hire, they are looking for people who are getting their hands dirty,” Baker said. “Campus Factory can make Western more competitive as a school.”

Every Monday students can visit Campus Factory’s “Free Coffee Monday” table in Red Square from 9-10 a.m. to learn more about the organization and joining.

Eventually, Taverne said the club would like to see Campus Factory grow into something beyond Western and to other colleges and universities. 

“We want to develop the Campus Factory process so that people can take it to their universities,” Taverne said. “We want to share the idea of how to start a non-profit and find people who want to design products.”

Campus Factory is looking for advisors to be a part of their organization. For more information about the club go to http://www.campusfactorywwu.com/.

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