This week has been an exciting week for makers in the nation’s capital. Aside from the very first White House Maker Faire that took place on Thursday, TechShop – the membership-based, network of facilities incorporating a do-it-yourself fabrication and prototyping studio, hackerspace, and learning center – hosted Maker Media’s inaugural Maker Summit on Tuesday at their Crystal City location in Arlington, VA.
“TechShop is the perfect location to bring together leaders from the maker, business and educational communities to brainstorm ways to develop and nurture future makers locally and nationally,” said Dale Dougherty, founder, president and CEO of Maker Media. “Our Summit is designed to provide additional context and support the efforts of the White House as they host their first-ever White House Maker Faire on June 18.”
A precursor to Wednesday’s Maker Faire event at the White House, the Maker Summit provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the Maker Movement. More importantly, though, it was an opportunity for government leadership to learn ways through which they can develop programs – on local and national levels – to improve access to the tools, resources, and mentors necessary for building the maker community. From looking at the impact of makers on education and workforce development to its contribution to global development and American manufacturing, the summit provided an overview of the current and potential impact that greater support for a movement can have on the overall intellectual and economical landscape of the country.
“We think of TechShop as community-builders and a key piece of the innovation and tech community that’s taking shape here in Crystal City”, said Mitchell Schear, President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith and owner of TechShop’s new location in Crystal City.
This past April, TechShop’s DC-Arlington location opened its doors to support the growing maker community in the DC metro region. At Tuesday’s Summit, TechShop COO Dan Woods joined Schear in a ribbon cutting ceremony (involving a handheld plasma cutter and steel ribbon) for this eighth TechShop facility. While certainly excited for the addition of a TechShop in the DC region, Woods notes that there’s a huge opportunity for creating more spaces around the country:
“We need more makerspaces – we need ten times as many makerspaces as have now. We have eight TechShops now – and that’s great – but even if we have eighty TechShops, there’s still a huge chunk of the population that could use these resources.”
And, that’s certainly been the goal of this entire week: building enthusiasm and support for the whole Maker Movement. On Saturday, TechShop DC-Arlington will celebrate its official grand opening with an event from 11am to 4pm. Anyone’s welcome to join in on some robot battles, games, build competitions, giveways, eat free food, and get tours of the facility.