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Making Our Future: TechShop Partners with ASU Formalizing the Maker Movement in Arizona

Have you heard the term “Maker Movement?” According to Techopedia, “The maker movement is a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.”  It’s kind of a more formalized name for the folks who have been part of the do-it-yourself or DYI lifestyle or ethic in a mash-up with technology.

Some major things have come out of the maker movement recently, including the little Square device that many use for financial transactions and of course we’re all familiar with Etsy, which has over one million artisans who are selling their hand made products on the site.

So where to all these artisans and inventors go to create all their gadgets and arts? Not everyone can afford to go to school to learn this (and really what school actually teaches this stuff–I guess ASU NOW!) and who can afford a machine shop in their home (my husband would probably give up our house for a garage full of these machines)?

Well, there’s a club (of sorts) for that—TechShop— a community of makers based around a membership workshop that brings together people of all skill levels to use industrial tools and equipment to build their own projects.  The concept is really simple, for a monthly membership fee, members reserve the right to use the tools and equipment and receive training to improve their technical skills.  All the membership facilities include access to: laser cutters, plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a metal working shop, a textiles department, welding stations and a waterjet cutter. Members have open access to design software, featuring the entire Autodesk Design Suite. Additionally, there are project areas with large worktables  available for completing projects and collaborating with others. TechShop was founded in California by an inventor and scientist and has now grown to eight membership locations.

The most recent location to open is in Chandler, Arizona and is the first partnership with a university, Arizona State University.  The ASU Chandler Innovation Center opened in November of 2013 and is part of the new College of Technology and Innovation. Recently, we were given a tour of this new facility and we were amazed!  The building is a 15,000 square-foot shop inside the new 35,000 square-foot innovation center.  The building is mixed-use with a shop and classrooms.  The most exciting part about this is that anyone can be a member—that’s right—anyone in the public can join and use the TechShop!

So this facility includes inventors, scientists, tech people, students, instructors and the public all “making” our future! Will you be a part of it?  Let’s make sure that Indian Country in Arizona is part of “making” our future too!


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