Category Archives: Around Town

Vocademy: A New Hackerspace in Riverside!

 

Maker and Hacker spaces are incredibly important for every community to provide a place for kids and adults to learn, explore, create and build with their own free will. It is so good to be seeing these places popping up in towns all across America, the world even!  Vocademy is one such place coming to Southern California and we here at OC Mini Maker Faire have been thrilled to watch it’s growth and progress over the past year.  Here’s Gene Sherman telling about this journey in his own words:

A journey begins with an idea and can take you to unimagined and unexplored places. My journey began with an observation that I started to see over and over. Every student over the last 15 years or so has been told that their only option was to attend college in order to be a success.

Schools have been slowly getting rid of their hands-on skills’ classes. Metal shop, wood shop, ceramics, sewing, auto shop…look at your local schools and you will see that they rarely exist anymore. Having gone through high school in the 80s, I did have those resources available to me, and I took advantage of every one I could. It is probably what kept me going to school during my junior and senior years. Even those who do choose higher education are missing out on the joys and creativity necessary in making things with their hands.

I look around today and think to myself, where can the average person go if he/she wants to create something, invent, tinker, explore and/or learn to use tools or machinery? Maybe to a friend’s shop or garage, but how many people have access to that?


It got me thinking about how I could be part of a solution to this dilemma that faces young and old, male or female, student or not. Where could someone go to get the hands-on skills to create or learn to make what they wanted? You see, I have always been a maker and have been curious about how things worked. I built models and played with RC cars and helicopters. If something broke, I figured out how to fix it. These are priceless experiences that put you in control of your possesions. I had parents who encouraged and taught me how to explore, how to use hands-on tools, and my father was a master machinist who taught me the nuances of the profession.

As I mentioned earlier, I was becoming disheartened by the lack of skills being taught and how people did not have a place to use these skills. I knew I was not alone in this thought. And so years ago I discovered that there was a movement growing, a maker movement. People started getting together in tiny garages and homes. They would share their limited resources and expertise and just make things. But these groups were very small and not well known. I wanted a place where anyone can go, any time of day. And that is how the idea for Vocademy came to fully develop.

Another integral part of the Vocademy process was when I worked at a local university as the lab and shop manager for a mechanical engineering department. I worked there for five years, and I saw a distressing trend. These future engineers didn’t know basic tools, or how to read blueprints, or what kinds of metals to use, or even how to competently use machinery. In a school of over 21,000 students, only 50 had access to the shop. I knew there were many others interested in learning this stuff! So, I started teaching my own version of Machine Shop 101 class to the students in order to help fill in their learning gap and quickly found out that many in community also wanted in. Word spread and people started asking for more! They wanted woodshop, sewing, 3D printing and every other kind of “industrial art” possible. I also wanted to make these classes available on a larger scale. To also let people use the entire facility to practice what they learned and make whatever they desire!

Now, here we are in 2013, and we just completed an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign. Last week, I signed a lease to our new 15,000 sq. ft. building in Riverside. We hope to be moving in in September! Meanwhile, I am working on finding/meeting with equity investors, gathering more equipment and hiring staff. There is a lot to do and I am expecting our grand opening to be October 6th.

The journey will continue, and there will be unexpected turns and hills and valleys. Today Vocademy is now coming to reality and once again, people will be able to express themselves with their hands.

To learn more about Vocademy just click on the name to visit their website or come see them in person at the OC Mini Maker Faire on August 17th at UCI!

 

3D Printing and Hackshop

Saturday was the Grand Opening of Deezmaker in Pasadena, Southern California’s first 3D Print shop and Hackerspace!  It was indeed a grand celebration with plenty of local makers, hackers and geeks in attendance to welcome the new space.

photo by Goli Mohammadi

Located in a small strip mall right off the 210 freeway on Hill St in Pasadena, this place was brought to life with the passion and enthusiasm of Diego Porqueras, the financial support of his dad, Romulo, and lots of moral support from many friends and family members who were all there to celebrate the beginning of a wonderful and unique thing.

Printbl.com’s PLA filament available at Deezmaker

Diego first heard about 3D Printers from a CNN report on the MakerBot, afterwards he went to CrashSpace and attended some MakerBot Monthly meetings and was hooked.  Soon after he purchased and built his first 3D Printer which was a Prusa Mendel kit from RepRap and that led to the development of his own 3D Printer the BukoBot.   Diego wanted a machine that was more easily expandable to accommodate larger print jobs as well as inexpensive and easy to build.

Diego (right) checks out a 3D printed car shell at the Grand Opening.

A year ago the pieces started coming together and Deezmaker began to take shape, you know things are meant to be when that happens.  The new shop has a very comfortable feel sporting both a roomy area for workshops with two pull down screens and a corner for relaxing stocked with a growing library and a guitar.

Currently the shop is open for the purchasing of parts and filament but, once it’s fully operational it will be open for 3D Printer rentals, as a Hackerspace and will offer a variety of workshops and classes as well as a place to purchase 3D printers and parts.  One of the best things about being at the Grand Opening was seeing the people who had come from just down the street as well as people who had traveled up from the depths of Orange County to support this endeavor.  It was good to see many familiar faces and to make new friends in the maker community.    I was especially pleased to see a Likeame photo frame which had been purchased by Diego, it served as yet another physical reminder of how this community supports one another.Something to watch for in the next few months is a 3D Printer Kiosk opening up at the Irvine Spectrum in Orange County in January 2013.  Imagine being able to go to the mall and have your design printed up while you wait.  Or you can place larger orders and pick them up later.   Brian may also host a pop-up store at OC Mini Maker Faire 2013.

The 3D printer is growing in popularity, more and more people are finding amazing uses and building better, faster, bigger machines.   One day 3D printers will be as common as ink and paper printers, Deezmaker is a step in that direction.

For more information on Deezmaker contact Diego at:  (657) 333-MAKE or email: Deezmaker@gmail.com.