Where some see a simple idea or tool, others see a whole new business sector. NC State has fostered that kind of visionary thinking throughout its history, counting many notable entrepreneurs among its alumni. The same innovative spirit is brewing in the NCSU Libraries’ Makerspaces, thanks in part to donations from two alumni entrepreneurs.
Robert Connelly (‘87) and Craig Goff (‘83 ‘85 M.S.) are no strangers to the transformative possibilities of the 3D printers in the NCSU Libraries’ Makerspaces. In 2001, Connelly founded Fineline Prototyping, a leader in rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. He soon recruited Goff, and they grew Fineline’s business rapidly for over a decade. Minnesota-based ProtoLabs bought Fineline in 2014.
Recognizing the potential of wide access to making technologies for the next generation of NC State students, Connelly and Goff became some of the first donors to support the new D. H. Hill Library Makerspace. “When we talk to people who visit us at ProtoLabs,” says Connelly, “we find that the younger students are the ones who really see the value in freeform geometry that 3D printing makes possible. They see that it can solve problems that were previously impossible due to the limitations of conventional manufacturing.”
Both Connelly and Goff now count themselves among NC State parents, as well, with a freshman and senior in the College of Engineering, respectively. They have a new appreciation for, and investment in, the university’s progressive nature. “NC State is constantly reinventing itself as it moves forward to take best advantage of the technologies and best practices of the day,” Connelly says. “As a parent, that gives me confidence that my children will be well positioned to enter the workforce with valuable skills and perspectives.”
Philanthropic contributions allow the NCSU Libraries to support, expand, and promote its Makerspace activities and offerings. We are grateful for the support of Robert Connelly and Craig Goff, as well as Glen Raven, Inc., NC State University Foundation, Inc., Autodesk, and SparkFun Electronics.
To learn more about giving to the Libraries’ Makerspaces, please contact Leia Droll at or 919-513-7033.