On the very bottom floor, in the back corner of Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library, sits a glass-boxed room with a sticker reading “Maker Hub” on the door. To anyone walking past it, it might seem like any other inconspicuous place, but for entrepreneurs, researchers, and creators, it’s the ultimate place to connect.
Shavini Fernando (GRD ’19), founder and CEO of OxiWear, is one student that seized the opportunity to utilize everything the Maker Hub had to offer. In 2019, as a graduate student at Georgetown University, Fernando was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension (PH) after suffering a cardiac arrest. When Fernando’s doctors told her she might never be able to live alone because of her condition, she fought to prove them wrong.
Fernando had previously utilized the Maker Hub for various school projects, enjoying the Hub so much she even became the operations coordinator for the space. The familiarity with the Maker Hub gave her the chance to bring her own idea to life: creating a wearable device to constantly test oxygen levels. With the help of mentors and fellow Maker Hub students, Fernando was able to save her own life, and eventually, many others.
“It is a place where so many people are coming together to connect,” said Fernando. “And when you’re doing a startup, it’s those connections that carry you along the way.”
Connections like these enabled Anna Giaquinto (B’21) and Neal Singal to embark on the entrepreneurial journey as undergraduates. While independently working in the space, Giaquinto, Singal, and other students would discuss the existing problems with low-cost air quality monitors. As their passion for the issue grew, they decided that they could work in the space that had brought them together to solve the problem.
Utilizing different resources like their fellow Maker Hub peer Fernando, the students joined forces to form their own startup, Globally Unified Air Quality (GUAQ). Giaquinto, CEO of GUAQ, and Singal, CFO of GUAQ, utilized the tools Maker Hub offered to build the first prototype of their air quality monitoring device. The co-founders have since gone on to participate in a number of other Georgetown Entrepreneurship programs, like the annual Bark Tank pitch competition and the inaugural Georgetown Startup Accelerator for alumni entrepreneurs.
“Places like Georgetown are such great opportunities to be able to develop these connections and utilize these resources,” said Giaquinto. “If anyone is ever considering entrepreneurship, it’s worth starting while you’re in school.”
As the Maker Hub comes back to life with students in person and on campus for the fall semester, the new Maker Hub Manager, David Strout, could not be more excited about projects to launch from the creative atmosphere next. With the Maker Hub specifically designed to encourage collaboration between students, it seems to be waiting and ready for the next great idea to come to life.
“Aside from the physical assets of the space, the moment a student enters the Maker Hub they are instantly part of a community with a diverse array of skills and interests,” said Strout. “This collaborative environment encourages learning, sharing, and creativity, helping students evolve their projects even if they didn’t have the necessary skills to begin with.”