On Tuesday, I had a chance to drop by the Austin HackerSpace (http://www.atxhackerspace.org/) to meet a great group of very enthusiastic makers, artists and DIY creatives using this wonderful facility for project ranging from restoring an old turntable to modifying a Dr. Who™ K-9 toy into a true robot using the wonderful Arduino microcontroller platform.
What is a hackerspace? Hackers are bad and all that, right? Not this kind of hacker, often termed a “maker” – a hackerspace or makerspace is a place where DIYers bring together tools and skills to share in the process of discovery, innovation and simple fun. These are wonderful locations to encourage young learners and old to take an interest electronics, artistic creation and myriad other subjects that align with my favorite topic of choice – STEM studies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic). Hackerspaces provide a lab for learning and developing practical experience through access to equipment such as a laser cutter, 3D printers, common tools and space for constructing small to large contraptions and fanciful designs.
Members hold regular instruction sessions to transfer their knowledge to others, both instructing and learning together in a marvelously open and enthusiastic environment that encourages interest and a sense of community. CNN recently ran a story about a young maker, Joey Hudy, who brought his marshmallow cannon to the White House to share the success of Maker projects inspiring youth with the President during the White House Science Fair. (One can only assume that the Secret Service had already verified the marshmallows were de-militarized versions.)
If you like to cut, weld, sew, knit, nail, paint, solder, or any of the thousands of other forms of DIY hobbys out there, you should check out your own local Maker scene and see if there is not already a hackerspace in your area. If not, it’s certainly time to get one started!
To get some ideas, check out what other spaces brought to the Maker Faire!
Thanks to the entire crew at the ATM HackerSpace for welcoming me and answering my many quesitons, as well as to the group of interested visitors who politely waited while I got photos of all the cool equipment during our tour! -KKH