Speed School launches makerspace at Nativity Academy at St. Boniface


The University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering has donated a makerspace to Nativity Academy at St. Boniface in support of their efforts to encourage in their students a lifelong education in STEM fields. Nativity Academy is an independent Catholic middle school in the Phoenix Hill neighborhood dedicated to serving families in financial need.

Speed School Dean John Usher said during today’s ribbon-cutting that he hopes the makerspace “ignites a passion” in the students and shows them “how fun math and science actually can be.”

He also announced that the Speed School would donate five full-tuition scholarships to Nativity graduates who earn their high school diploma in spring of 2018 and beyond. The Speed School made a similar donation of a makerspace and scholarships to the West End School earlier this school year.

As part of both partnerships, the Speed School will schedule engineering educational events, and Speed School students will provide weekly tutoring sessions.

Both gifts were made possible by a gift to the Speed School by Martha and Frank Diebold to foster educational outreach.

The Speed School built out and equipped the space; donated tools include a laser cutter, 3-D printer, band saw, drill press and other machines.

Usher said that if the students ultimately get a good job in the maths or sciences, such an achievement would “change their families for generations.”

Interim U of L Provost Neville Pinto said, “U of L is very committed to our community,” adding that he “wants to make science and math interesting” for the students.

Nativity Board Chairman Dave Mueller told the large audience gathered for the ribbon-cutting that the building had been constructed in 1905 and that over the course of time it had been home to a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, a theater and a church school. It also has hosted many neighborhood festivals, and in the early 1900s Boy Scouts raised and sold live turkeys for Thanksgiving there.

The shiny new makerspace is housed on the stage of the former theater in stark contrast to the historic building around it.