When my family lived in Macon, GA, our Macon makers community helped start one of the first makerspaces in Middle, GA: SparkMacon.com. A makerspace is a community oriented and operated workshop with tools to support a broad range of art and technology projects. At SparkMacon, we had tools for woodworking, physical computing, music recording, laser cutting, 3D printing, and art projects. In this season of life, I had the opportunity to witness the awesome benefits of a makerspace community. SparkMacon was founded to support local technology startups and inspire the growth of makers young and old. In general, makerspaces encourage grass-roots learning environments where makers learn from each other. I love the cross-functional nature of makerspaces too. It’s amazing the things you learn when you have different types of engineering, business minds, science, computer geeks and art people in the same room. Many makerspaces also support the mission of seeding the startup ecosystem of a city.
I’m looking forward to engaging in a makerspace community in Orlando at some point. I wanted to share a few makerspaces that you might enjoy exploring.
FamiLAB: As we were building SparkMacon, I gained a lot of inspiration from this makerspace community. I believe that this makerspace was the first makerspace community for Orlando. They consistently have diverse set of events and learning experiences. I’ve enjoyed taking my kids to their Raspberry Pi Jam sessions. The scale and variety of tools is amazing. (laser cutting, 3D printing, metal working, DIY biology and more). I specially find the DIY biology sub-community interesting since my wife teaches microbiology. ( very similar to http://biocurious.org)
Melrose Center: I love seeing the makerspace movement move into other community and education organizations. If you live in Orange county in Orlando, you have a really nice benefit: Melrose Center. The Melrose Center, associated with the Orlando downtown library, provides makerspace services for the cost of a library card. If you don’t live Orange county, you can access many of the services for a nominal cost. The Melrose Center provides a nice spectrum of professional development workshops, family STEAM workshops, and community meetups. Some of my favorite meetups including ONETUG, Google Developers of Central Florida, and the Data Science and Machine Learning group of Orlando meet there. The makerspace offers tools like 3D printers, podcasting recording studios, music recording space, Adobe products lab, virtual reality lab, and more.
MakerFX: The MakerFX makerspace, located in South Orlando, have an impressive community of makers. Like all makerspaces, they offer an impressive range of tools and educational programming. If you’re interested in visiting this makerspace, they offer an “open house” every Friday. You can “drop in” and sample the community and tools. While this makerspace has equipment to serve advanced makers, they seem to have a cool collection of beginner content including Arduino workshops, 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, and more. On the more advanced end, you can learn about beekeeping, parametric design, PCB layout with Eagle, and combat robotics. This makerspace is the home of the Maker Effect foundation. ( http://www.themakereffect.org/ ) This foundation support STEAM education efforts in the city, connecting the makerspaces of Orlando, and coordination of the Orlando MakerFaire. (one of my favorite events every year!)
Factur: I wanted to give a quick shout out to the makers at Factur too. While attending Orlando MakerFaire in 2017, I saw some impressive projects from this community. This makerspace community has entrepreneurial tone since the makerspace also serves as a co-working space in downtown Orlando. They seem to have a great buzz. You can learn more about their culture, tools, and events here: http://factur.org/
To our readers, make sure to mark your calendars for Nov 10 and 11 for Orlando Maker Faire. It truly is the greatest “show and tell” of the city. The art, projects and creativity will blow you away! And you get to see all of these makerspaces in action! 🙂 It’s a great event for the family. Make sure to check it out!