The grand opening of the Shuswap Makerspace was a mix of formality and fun, with an opportunity to explore and try out what this community-driven workshop has to offer.
In no time at all, the lobby of the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre – the unmissable rainbow-coloured, butterfly-adorned building on Shuswap Street – was packed with people on Wednesday evening, Dec. 5, for the opening of the Makerspace in the bottom level of the building.
Leading the opening were Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS) manager Lana Fitt, SAEDS board director and Innovation Centre project chair Chad Shipmaker, and Innovation Centre executive director Thomas Briginshaw, who began by providing background about the Innovation Centre and the Makerspace and how the two came to be.
Shipmaker noted it was remarkable to be standing inside a Salmon Arm Innovation Centre, something that had only been an idea two years ago. As he continued, Shipmaker explained how, during the city branding exercise leading up to the formal Dec. 1 brand launch, what really jumped out were the number of tech-based businesses in the community. This eventually led to a feasibility study which involved communication with the school district, Okanagan College, businesses and community members.
“We heard there was huge demand from members of the community, from young to old, for a place to explore technology, a place to learn and to share ideas or to teach…” said Shipmaker. “So we heard all of this and thought there might be an idea to connect a number of these things. Conceptually we thought of the innovation centre as having multiple components, so we thought there could be a makerspace, which is defined as a collaborative learning space based on the premise of the shared economy. A diverse market with everyone from youth to seniors and hobbyists to inventors ––Makerspaces provide access to shared equipment, knowledge and expertise which may not otherwise be available to individuals.”
Shipmaker emphasized the offerings of the Makerspace would be community driven.
After this introduction, Fitt honoured the numerous volunteers and sponsors for their contributions, while Briginshaw announced the eight founding members of the Makerspace leadership team would receive lifetime memberships.
After stepping outside for the formal ribbon cutting, the crowd weaved their way throughout the Makerspace. And this is when the fun began, with people of all ages taking advantage of the opportunity to try out the Virtual Reality (VR) Room and receive a quick intro to robotics, view the digital and electronics labs, check out the 3D printers and spend some time in the well-equipped woodworking shop.
Briginshaw appeared to be having fun helping people try out the VR room and seeing people genuinely impressed with what the Makerspace has to offer, available to the public through workshops and memberships.
“Workshops are available to anyone and everyone and you don’t need a membership,” said Briginshaw. “There’s no commitment, anyone is welcome to use a workshop at any time. And if you think you’re going to spend more time here, or you want to be part of the community and build and collaborate and work together, we have memberships which gives you unlimited access to the space, as long as we’re open, which is from 9 am. to 8 p.m. So that allows you to come in and use the VR or use a 3D printer or make something in the woodshop… Members have unlimited access to play around and use the equipment and do something kind of cool.”
Briginshaw notes that before there can be unsupervised use of much of the Makerspace, individuals are required to complete mandatory certification courses – introductory classes available to members and non-members.
To learn more about Makerspace workshops, memberships and more, visit www.innovates.ca/makerspace/.
SAEDS business support co-ordinator Jocelyne Johnson welcomes public support for the Makerspace through the purchase of memberships that could be shared with those who might not otherwise be able to afford one. For more information, call 250-833-0608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.