NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Herbert Midgley, a lecturer in Stephen F. Austin State University’s School of Music, was recently named the inaugural 2023-24 Faculty Fellow for the SFA Makerspace, a new unit housed within the Lumberjack Learning Commons that fosters a collaborative environment with access to technologies to learn, create and explore.
“Being chosen as the inaugural Faculty Fellow for the SFA Makerspace is truly an honor and a highlight of my career at SFA,” Midgley said. “I am thrilled to share my passion for creation across artistic mediums, from composing music to producing podcasts and videos. This opportunity allows me to utilize my expertise in emerging technologies to inspire innovation. I aim to build enthusiasm for the vast creative potential of the Makerspace among students, staff and faculty.”
The position of Faculty Fellow is a recognition of a faculty member’s outstanding achievements and contributions. In the role, Midgley’s primary duty will be connecting and collaborating with faculty, staff and students to help them better understand how the Makerspace can contribute to learning inside and out of the classroom.
According to Midgley, an SFA faculty member since 1999, his goal is to foster an engaging, collaborative environment that empowers the campus community to explore new forms of expression. His main focus will be in the music creation station with the intention to work with faculty members on strategies to integrate hands-on creation into their courses using audio, podcasting, music and video production. He also hopes to inspire students to explore creativity through the arts.
“Herbert has long been known on campus and online for his creativity, ability to connect with others and willingness to share his knowledge and time,” said Megan Weatherly, executive director of the Lumberjack Learning Commons. “His familiarity with both the technologies and the pedagogies of makerspaces make him an ideal candidate to connect with faculty members and students alike as we launch this new space.”
Midgley, whose expertise in music technology dates back to the 1980s, has long been intrigued by makerspaces and their creative potential. After a visit in 2018 to an innovative space in Los Angeles that bridged industry with education, his inspiration for hands-on learning to support creativity in higher education classrooms took shape. The visit led to Midgley purchasing a 3D printer to explore emerging technologies that could be integrated on campus.
“My long-standing passion for technology and the arts made me recognize how a makerspace could empower students to turn imagination into innovation,” Midgley said.
During the sixth annual Makerspaces for Innovation and Research in Academics virtual conference in July, Midgley presented, “How to Incorporate Music into Your Makerspace using Older Technology.” The presentation showcased how schools can add music creation to makerspaces cost-effectively using older equipment. By repurposing aging technology rather than discarding it, makerspaces can provide access to more creative tools. This approach allows educators to empower hands-on learning on a budget.
“Makerspaces exist to empower creation across mediums,” Midgley said. “Music is integral to much of today’s digital content, from online videos to films, documentaries and podcasts. The music and audio station at the SFA Makerspace will enable students to compose and record original scores for their projects. Having access to quality tools for mixing songs, instrumentals and soundscapes right on campus fuels innovation.”
When away from the classroom, Midgley composes original songs and is an active filmmaker, which involves writing, directing, acting, cinematography, sound and scoring.
The SFA Makerspace is part of the Lumberjack Learning Commons on the first floor of the Steen Library. It’s staffed by employees who teach clients how to use the technologies available; assist with questions and troubleshooting; and create paths for ideation, iteration and production. The Makerspace’s primary goal is to support student learning and to support research, independent projects and SFA’s maker community.
For more information about the SFA Makerspace, visit sfasu.edu/makerspace.