In Nebraska, Maker Spaces Boom Across the State

Alego man with a drillre you interested in learning how to use modern manufacturing technologies, like 3D printing and laser cutting? Do you love designing with 3D modeling? Are you a coding or robotics aficionado? Do you love the idea of becoming proficient in metalworking or woodworking? These are just some of the tools and skills available in Lincoln, Nebraska’s, MakeShift, a maker space for the Lincoln, Nebraska, community.

The space, which is currently under construction and due to open in the spring of 2016, is designed to make a positive impact in Nebraska by providing space for not just STEM-lovers, but also for artists to create and showcase their projects. “We want to promote innovation and inventions in many areas including the arts,” Raffet Velarde, a UNL graduate and board member of MakeShift told The Daily Nebraskan. “We want to promote community building, resource sharing, education activities and mentorships. We believe this will enormously benefit Lincoln and Nebraska.”

You can learn more about or donate to MakeShift here. Since construction is still progressing, the space will offer an “open lab” every Monday from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and will accept donations for the use of equipment. Community members can work with established makers, learn how to run the equipment, and hopefully work on self-driven projects.

So far, the space has been useful to people with a variety of needs, including future entrepreneurs or company owners who are looking to test out equipment before they buy it. “Two brothers wanted to understand the capabilities of a laser cutter or engraver since they were planning to buy one for their business. We invited them to come and try ours,” Velarde says. “They were very impressed that we shared our knowledge about the machine and the demonstrations we did for them. We believe that as word gets out about what we do and our capabilities, more people will come to our makerspace.”

MakeShift isn’t the only example of the makerspace trend “making” its way across Nebraska. In Kearney, non-profit organization Beyond School Bells provided the first “mobile makerspace” earlier this fall for Kearney Public Schools. The 6-foot by 12-foot trailer houses items for students to experiment with and even has carts, a table, and a canopy for outdoor experiments. Earlier this year, we also reported on Metropolitan Community College’s Fab Lab, a place for MCC students to make and create fabricated products. They also offer noncredit classes to the community in specialized topics like guitar craftsmanship and more.

According to The Atlantic, the rising number of makerspaces, fab labs, tech incubators, and more actually help the economy to grow by helping entrepreneurs who might not have had the capital to purchase their own 3D printer, laser cutter, or other pricey machine. This growth creates a ripple effect, funding local retailers and businesses necessary for the growth of a young business.

We look forward to seeing the ways in which Nebraska’s numerous makerspaces will have an impact on our community and our manufacturing industry. If you’ve ever felt that desire to craft a product, make something with your hands or become an expert at advanced machinery, now is truly your time to shine.

Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave them in the section below, anytime!

photo credit: At work via photopin (license)