Makerspace Technicians

Alex Alessi

Hello! My name is Alex Alessi and I am a Homewood student studying Robotics and Mechanical Engineering here at Hopkins. Whether it’s an autonomous boat, a low-vibration cryostat or a home automation device, I love to design and build electro-mechanical systems. Working on a project that could use a fresh set of eyes? Don’t hesitate to reach out! Outside of working hours, you’ll find me hiking, climbing or camping. The outdoors is my second home and I’m most content when I’m lost on an outdoor adventure.

Contact Info:

Catherine Pollard

Catherine Pollard is a first-year undergraduate, pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Robotics and Philosophy. Hailing from the great state of Massachusetts, she is most interested in making “making” accessible to everyone; that is to say, teaching individuals with different experience levels and areas of expertise how to realize their ideas through manufacturing. Other passions include A Capella music and medical technology. 

Contact Info:

Dylan Zhu

Hello there! My name’s Dylan Zhu, I’m a freshman studying BME and MechE. I’m interested in creating medical devices, especially ones that closely interface with our brains (like prosthetics and BCIs), and finding ways to help consumers get the most out of such products. Outside of work, I like listening to music (lots of Arctic Monkeys and Miles Davis) and lifting. I can’t wait to see what you make in the makerspace!

Contact Info:

I-lin Wu (Link)

Hi, my name is I-Lin Wu. You can call me Link. What?? Yes, it is the same as the character name “Link” in Zelda. My dad used Link as my English name when I was a child, and surprisingly, he didn’t even know Zelda at that time. I graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in the major of electrical and computer engineering. While in college, I worked as an Assistant IC design and test engineer intern in California for about 3 months. I learned how a product is being developed in an early stage and the importance of working as a team. I also have got the chance to modify the components in the circuit and increase the power efficiency by analyzing the data collected. After that, I found a short-term job at Foxconn in China and worked as a research and development test engineer. This experience gave me the chance of working with Apple’s engineers to develop, design, and implement cost-effective methods of testing camera modules in a manufacturing environment. Now, I am pursuing my master’s degree in the major of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University.

Contact Info:

Marcus Montisano

Marcus is a junior mechanical engineering student, coming from a 3+2 Dual Degree Program with Goucher College where he studied Physics.  He is from Harrisburg, PA, where he gained a year of experience working at a local Makerspace.  At Hopkins, Marcus is a member of Blue Jay Racing, Hopkins’s Baja SAE Team, the Transfer Student Association, and Club Swimming. He enjoys assisting with design and helping projects reach their full realization. His area of expertise is working with 3D printers, but he is familiar with using laser cutters, vinyl cutters, CNCs, lathes, and mills.

Contact Info:

General Shop Tools

  1. Personal Protective Equipment
  2. Combination Wrenches
  3. Adjustable Wrench
  4. Nut Drivers
  5. Utility Knives
  6. Pliers
  7. Screwdrivers
  8. Scrapers and Picks
  9. Files
  10. Measuring Equipment
  11. Hammers and Mallets
  12. Clamps
  13. Allen Wrench
  14. DeWalt Driver Set
  15. Tap and Die Sets
  16. Hot Glue Gun
  17. Supply Closet

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is essential gear when working with tools and machines. We have safety glasses, hair ties, headphones, and earplugs that must be used when working in the wood shop, metal shop, and paint booth.

Tips for Using Protective Equipment

How to Use Earplugs

  1. Roll the earplug into a small, thin “snake” with your fingers. You can use one or both hands.
  2. Pull the top of your ear up and back with your opposite hand to straighten out your ear canal. The rolled-up earplug should slide right in.
  3. Hold the earplug in with your finger. Count to 20 or 30 out loud while waiting for the plug to expand and fill the ear canal. Your voice will sound muffled when the plug has made a good seal.

Check the fit when you’re all done. Most of the foam body of the earplug should be within the ear canal. Try cupping your hands lightly over your ears. If sounds are much more muffled with your hands in place, the earplug may not be sealing properly. Take the earplug out and try again.

Putting on a Face Shield

Face shield

Rotate the wheel on the sides of your ear to lock the face shield in place. To adjust fit around head use the knob on the back of your head by pushing in and then rotating.

Cleaning Safety Glasses

ULINE Lens Cleaning Station

To clean safety glasses use the ULINE Lense Cleaning Station. Wipes and spray are provided.

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Combination Wrenches


What Is It?

A wrench is a tool used to provide grip and mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects—usually rotary fasteners, such as nuts and bolts—or keep them from turning.

Look For: We provide both metric and standard. Make sure to put them back in the right spot.

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Adjustable Wrench

Adjustable wrench

What Is It?

An adjustable wrench is an open-end wrench with a movable jaw, allowing it to be used with different sizes of fastener head rather than just one fastener size.

Use it For: Loosening fasteners. Generally, works on any size because it is adjustable.

Always turn an adjustable wrench toward the movable jaw

How to Use: Tighten the movable jaw onto the fastener head and turn from the handle. Always turn the wrench toward the movable jaw.

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Nut Drivers

Nut drivers

What Is It?

A nut driver is a tool for tightening nuts and bolts. It essentially consists of a socket attached to a shaft and cylindrical handle and is similar in appearance and use to a screwdriver. They generally have a hollow shaft to accommodate a shank onto which a nut is threaded.

Use it For: Lower torque applications in accommodating a nut.

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Utility Knives

Utility knife

What Is It?

A utility knife is a cutting tool that features an extendable blade.  

Use it For: Cutting things.

Safety Information: Watch your fingers! Make sure your hands and body are not in the line of the cut. Don’t use a utility knife when a different tool would be better suited for the job (chisel, screwdriver, etc.).

Disassembled utility knife

Spare Blades: There are extra blades in the base of the utility knife that can be accessed by removing the screw on the side of the knife. Be careful when replacing the blade and be sure to dispose of the used blade in the yellow sharps container.

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What Is It? 

Pliers are used for clamping, cutting, and turning objects. They are not always the best tool for the job, especially when another tool like a wrench or hammer could be used instead.

Types of Pliers

Needle-nose pliers are best for small applications where other pliers wouldn’t fit. They can maneuver into tight spaces because of their long, thin noses.

Side-cutters have a cutting edge along one side and are often used for cutting wire. When cutting solid wire, it is best to cut part of the way through the wire and then grip the wire and bend it back and forth until it breaks off.

Slip-joint pliers are general use pliers with an adjustable mouth. There are two types: multiple hole or tongue and groove. Tongue and groove slip-joint pliers will generally have more adjustability than multiple hole slip-joint pliers.

Linesman pliers have two parts: a grooved gripping surface near the tip and a cutting edge.

Locking pliers are a useful tool that allows you to clamp something without having to hold the pliers. How to use: To adjust the size of the mouth, turn the adjustment crew at the bottom of the larger handle until it is the desired size. Then close the handles to grip your part. If the pliers don’t lock, the mouth is probably too small and should be adjusted. To release the pliers, press on the release lever. Watch out for: Scraping or cutting of gripped material due to excessive clamping force.

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What Is It?

A screwdriver is a tool for inserting and removing screws. A typical simple screwdriver has a handle and a shaft, ending in a tip the user puts into the screw head before turning the handle.

Screw head types

Look For: Screwdrivers come in different forms so make sure to use the one that fits to your screw head.

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Scrapers and Picks

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What Is It?

A file is a tool used to remove fine amounts of material from a workpiece. It is common in woodworkingmetalworking, and other similar trade and hobby tasks.

How to Use: Place file on surface, press down firmly, and push in the direction away from you. Pushing in the direction towards won’t have any effect.

Profiles: Different file profiles have different uses. Round and half-round files are used on semi-circular and concave surfaces. Triangle files are for acute angles and corners. Square files can make slots and key ways. Rectangular files are the most common shape and can be used to file edges or flat surfaces.

File profiles

Coarseness: A file’s coarseness is determined by the spacing of its teeth: the further the spacing, the coarser the file. Small files will be more fine than large files. A coarser file will remove more material with each pass and will leave a rougher finish. Single-cut files only have grooves running in one direction while double-cut files have grooves running across each other. A single-cut file will give a smoother finish than a double-cut file.

File card

File Card: A file card is used to clean out the teeth of a file. After some use a file will get clogged up with material and its performance will suffer. Lean the file on a flat surface and push the brush in the direction of the cuts that make the file’s teeth to loosen debris.

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Measuring Equipment

Measuring equipment

Tape Measure

Parts of a tape measure

Hook End Movement: The flat metal hook attached to the tape at the end with rivets is meant to grab onto the end of an item so that you can extend the tape. Without the hook, the tape would reel back, since it is spring-loaded. This hook is meant to slide back and forth. This is so you can measure either by butting the tape against an object or by hooking it on the edge of the object. The sliding motion ensures that you get an accurate measurement in either direction. Whether hooking the tape or butting it, make sure you do so firmly. Often, this little hook is uncooperative about sliding as it should.

Hook Accuracy: Unfortunately, the movement on the hook isn’t accurate on all tapes, and it can lose accuracy over time. If you really need an accurate measurement and you believe that the hook is not moving properly, you can do a simple technique called “burning an inch.” This means that you line up the end of the item you’re measuring with the 1-inch mark on the tape. When you take the measurement, just subtract that extra inch that you added. This eliminates any inaccuracy from the hook. You just have to remember to subtract that inch.


How to Use Calipers

  1. Outside large jaws: used to measure external diameter or width of an object
  2. Inside small jaws: used to measure internal diameter of an object
  3. Depth probe/rod: used to measure depths of an object or a hole
  4. Main scale (Metric): scale marked every mm
  5. Main scale (Imperial): scale marked in inches and fractions
  6. Vernier scale (Metric) gives interpolated measurements to 0.1 mm or better
  7. Vernier scale (Imperial) gives interpolated measurements in fractions of an inch
  8. Retainer: used to block movable part to allow the easy transferring of a measurement

Look For: Make sure to zero the caliper when you start.

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Hammers and Mallets

Hammers and mallets

Mallet: A mallet is similar to a hammer, but its large face distributes the pressure over a larger area and is better suited for some jobs. While it shouldn’t be used to drive nails, it should be used to position larger objects without denting them. Mallets are good for soft materials like wood. The red side is a softer rubber and the yellow side is a hard plastic.

Ball Peen Hammer: The ball peen hammer has two sides: one round and one flat. The flat side should be used for driving nails, hammering chisels, and breaking apart objects. The rounded side should be used for shaping metal/other materials and won’t leave a hammer mark.

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Quick-Grip Clamps


Quick-Grip Clamps: Quick-grip clamps make clamping both large and small objects very easy. To make the mouth of the clamp wider, compress the quick release lever and slide the moveable arm down the bar to the desired position. Then pump the advance lever until the clamp is holding the object securely. Release the clamp using the quick release lever.

Parts of a clamp

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Allen Wrench

Allen wrench

What Is It?

A tool used to drive bolts and screws with hexagonal sockets in their heads. They come in both Metric and SAE sizes. Make sure you have the correct one.

Use it For: Fastening and unfastening bolts and screws.

How to Use: Use either end to take advantage of torque and reach. The ball end allows for turning difficult-to-reach bolts and can be used at an angle.

Look For: A damaged (rounded) internal fastener, as it is more difficult to turn.

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Driver Set

Driver set

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Tap and Die Set

Tap and die set

What Is It?

A tap set is a tool set used for creating internal or external threads in parts by hand.

Sub Components:

  • Taps: used for creating internal threads in holes
  • Dies: Used for creating external threads on rods.
tap wrench
tap wrench
  • Tap Wrench: Used for holding taps and dies

Reminder: Make sure that the hole you drill is the proper size to be tapped (i.e. if you want to tap a ¼”-20 hole don’t drill a ¼” hole, you would need to drill with a #7 bit). You can find Tap Drill Size charts that will show what the proper hole size for tapping is.

How to Use: Insert and clamp the die or tap into the appropriate tap wrench (male or female). Clamp the part to be cut in a vise and generously apply cutting fluid.

For internal threads, insert plug tap into hole and cut threads by twisting the wrench.

For external threads, put tap die over part and start cutting threads by twisting.

For every full rotation you should reverse the tap/die to loosen up chips.

Look For: Keep the tap wrenches level so that the threads come out straight.

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Hot Glue Gun

Safety: Do NOT leave unattended

Hot glue gun

What Is It?

Hot glue is a form of thermoplastic adhesive that is shaped in a solid cylindrical stick designed to be applied using a hot glue gun.

How to Use: Heat up the glue gun by plugging it into an electrical outlet, then compress the trigger to extrude melted glue on your part.

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Supply Closet

We have a supply closet with additional supplies that can be retrieved by a makerspace employee. We have office supplies like sharpies, paper, and tape as well as an assortment of bolts and miscellaneous hardware. We also have arts and crafts supplies like popsicle sticks and string. Please ask us and we will see what we can find for you!

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Makerspace Speaker System


How to Connect Bluetooth:

  • Set your device to search for “EDIFIER R1700BT”
  • Pair your device with “EDIFIER R1700BT”
  • Play audio from your device at the desired level
  • Pin code for Bluetooth is 0000 if needed


  • Adjustments to the Bass and Treble can cause damage to the speakers especially at higher volumes.


  • Please check if power is connected, and if the wall outlet is switched on.
  • Please switch the system off then on and reconnect to the audio source.
  • Please check if the master volume is turned to minimum.
  • Please check if the audio input cable is connected correctly.
  • Please check if there is signal from audio source.

Rules and Regulations

Use of the makerspace is a privilege, if you are not following the rules and regulations, or safety guidelines outlined during training you will be banned from the JHU Makerspace.

  1. No food or drinks are allowed in the makerspace at any time.
  2. No open-toed footwear of any kind is allowed in the makerspace.
  3. When entering the JHU Makerspace you must swipe your J-card. Do not prop the door open or let others in unless given permission from staff.
  4. Do not let any unauthorized person (anyone who has not completed general shop training) into the makerspace.
  5. Do not use any equipment, tools, or facilities that you have not been trained on/in by JHU Makerspace staff.
  6. If there are any issues with tools, equipment, or the facilities you are to block off the equipment or area and contact JHU Makerspace staff immediately.
  7. Using equipment or resources for commercialization is prohibited.
  8. Tools, equipment, and resources are not to leave the makerspace unless given permission from the makerspace manager.
  9. You must pay for any tools, equipment, or resources that have a cost associated with them.
  10. You must follow all safety guidelines outlined during your training on JHU Makerspace tools, equipment, resources, and facilities.
  11. We do not allow multiple pieces of equipment to be run simultaneously by a single user. (EX: Printing on more than 1 printer at a time.)

 Having badge access to FastForward U Homewood and JHU Makerspace, I understand and agree to following:

● I will swipe/tap my student ID card each time I enter the space 

● I will keep the space clean by cleaning up after myself

● I will return furniture and any other items used back to its original location 

● I will not remove any items from the space (furniture, supplies, food, etc.) 

● I will report any problems with the space or suspicious activity immediately to the staff or security 

● I will not possess or consume alcohol (irrespective of age) or illegal drugs in the space 

● I will follow the JHU Student Conduct Code while using the facility and/or its resources. 

● I understand that violation of this agreement, especially regarding drugs, alcohol and inappropriate conduct, may result in immediate revocation of access privileges 

● I will follow all instructions given by JHU Makerspace, FastForward U, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, Johns Hopkins Security, and other posted security personnel

● I will surrender my badge access when I no longer need access, upon request by staff, or when I am no longer affiliated with the university (whichever of these occurs first)