Last month I had the opportunity to listen to a gentleman by the name of Scott Kramer speak at a homeschooling conference/workshop. From the moment I met him, I knew that he had a passion that he wanted to share with others. You see, Scott is one of the founders of Fresno Ideaworks. Fresno Ideaworks is a place to go where you can create things, use your hands, and build. At the same time, it is so much more than that.
Fresno Ideaworks started from a small group of Fresno engineers, artists, and geeks who were wanting to explore the idea of starting a hackerspace here in Fresno. (A hackerspace is a community-operated physical places, where people share their interest in tinkering with technology. It’s place to go and work on projects and learn from others in the process.) It soon turned into so much more than that. In 2012, the Fresno Grizzlies reached out to Fresno Ideaworks and wanted to partner with them in hosting a Mini Maker Faire. In April 2013, that dream came to fruition when the Fresno Ideaworks Mini Maker Faire was born. Since then so much more has happened. Most importantly though, they now have a huge space for people in the community to go and create.
I asked Scott to share with me how Fresno Ideaworks got started, and I’d like to now share with you what he said. He said it so perfectly, that I feel you should hear it in his words.
“We started [Fresno Ideaworks] mainly to make 3d printers and laser cutters available to hobbyists. But when the owner of our building contacted us and said he wanted us in his building, that changed everything. Having access to this amount of space meant we could do full industrial arts shops. As soon as we started building out the shop spaces we realized what an incredible resource we were building for the community. Industrial art and home economics have been removed from our schools. We have a generation of young people that are hungry to learn how to make things for themselves. This dovetails nicely with the fact that we have an older generation that is hungry to pass on their knowledge and make a difference with today’s youth. So, what began as a hobby has become a mission. We’re working with the schools on a number of levels to get programming in place so kids can rediscover the power of making. At the same time, they’ll be getting to know the older generation of Fresnans that already appreciate the power of making. Through these interactions, it’s my hope that these talented, smart, creative young people will see that there’s a place for smart and innovative people in Fresno.”
Scott is enthusiastic about Fresno Ideaworks, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
So, if you’re still asking yourself what Fresno Ideaworks is, let me explain it like this…It’s a place to go and build! It seems too simple, right? But think about it-it’s brilliant! People don’t really know how to build, let alone fix things anymore. I know this is true for me. We live in a time that when something is broken, it’s cheaper to just buy a new one, instead of repairing the old. Those behind Fresno Ideaworks aim to change that way of thinking. Building, creating, making, repairing-these are all forms of art, and this is what Fresno Ideaworks wants us to be doing. Their building is set up so that people can go in and create things. There are a few ways to accomplish this. You can become a member ($40 a month, or $20 a month for students, seniors 60 or better, and military-past or present), or you can just go in a take a class. Membership allows you to have access to everything in the shop. This means that once you’ve taken a welding or ceramics class, you can go in and use the gear for that to work on projects. This also means you can go in anytime during business hours and use the equipment. If you’d just rather take a class, you can and prices vary. However, if you take a wood, machine shop, welding, or ceramics class, you get a free month’s membership upon completion of the class.
There are varying events happening at Fresno Ideaworks, and I think their Sumobot competition happening on October 24th is probably the biggest news right now. This is an event where people can go in and make their own Sumobot. There are weight and size restrictions, but anyone can make one and compete. Think of the bot fighting on Big Hero 6, or BattleBots. If you want to compete but have no idea where or how to get started, then you can go by Fresno IdeaWorks on Saturday afternoon to get a starter kit for $40. This really is a super exciting event!!
A past event that I just love was the Frankenstuffy workshop. This is where they took parts of old stuffed animals and used them to create new stuffies! Such fun!
Some other events to look forward to:
- Fresno Maker Month 2016
- In-store Mini Maker Faire hosted by Barnes & Noble-November
- Zappcon-October 17th and 18th. They will be making game show podiums with buzzards. (I LOVE this-as I love all things game show!)
I cannot emphasize enough what a great organization this is. If you have a love for building or creating, please check out Fresno Ideaworks. If your kids love to build or create, check out Fresno Ideaworks. Even if you’re not sure, check them out! Let’s help our young ones to become a generation of creators and inventors!