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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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In Living

Milwaukee Makerspace gets stuff done.

Milwaukee Makerspace makes it happen

In 2009, Royce Pipkins and Tom Graelwicz started Milwaukee Makerspace, a Bay View-based organization that allows members to share skills and collaborate on projects with other members.

"One thing we stress is collaboration and education. If you don't know how to do something, there's probably another member who does, and can teach you and help you out," says member and community outreach coordinator Pete Prodoehl.

Pipkins and Graelwicz were involved in local robotics clubs before they started Milwaukee Makerspace. The first group project was a set of drivable pots of gold for the 2010 St. Patrick's Day parade, and the group later acquired a rental space in November 2010 at the Chase Commerce Center in Bay View. The grand opening was April 9, 2011 and it attracted more than 500 people.

Currently, there are 50 members, most of which are male, but the group has had female members in the past and would like to see more in the future.

"We welcome anyone who is passionate about creativity and making awesome things," says Prodoehl.

According to the website, Milwaukee Makerspace is "Milwaukee's hacker space and fabrication lab." The space features a selection of machines, a full wood shop, metal working tools, a laser cutter, a three-dimensional printer, an electronics lab, metal casting furnaces, welding equipment, a library and more.

"Projects range from whatever people are interested in, to larger group projects like parade floats or public art installations. There's even the BADASS, which is a secure 'kegerator' project that dispenses beer via an RFID badge," says Prodoehl.

There are currently more than a dozen projects underway inside the 10,000-square-foot space. The group has monthly open meetings to discuss the on goings.

A full-time membership, granting members access 24 hours a day / seven days a week is $80 per month, or $40 for students. There is also a half-time membership that is $40 per month, which allows limited access (weekends or weekdays only).

Members range from deeply skilled to novice designers, inventors, engineers, tech savvy individuals and artists.

"We've got a variety of expertise and skills represented in the space, including members who have 20 or more years of experience in their fields, and we thought it would be great to offer a college student an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people who love making things, and help them do a project that might not fit into their normal world of academics," says Prodoehl.

Prodoehl says Milwaukee Makerspace is helpful to students who lose access to their school's facilities during the summer. He also believes Milwaukee is the ideal location for the cooperative.

"We're all big fans of Milwaukee, and we love creativity, and art, and technology, and showcasing how awesome it is when all of those things come together," he says.

Prodoehl stresses the sky's the limit at Milwaukee Makerspace and that members are not limited to a specific type of project.

"Anyone who loves to collect new skills should come to Milwaukee Makerspace. If you've never welded, or used a table saw, or have an idea for a device that connects to the Internet and tweets when your cat is hungry, Milwaukee Makerspace is the place to do it," says Prodoehl.

"We can quickly prototype ideas and make them real using our equipment, and when you get stuck, there will be someone there to help you out."


nik | May 21, 2012 at 5:59 p.m. (report)

I have been looking for a place like this for quite sometime. I'll be in for the open house next week.

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raster | May 21, 2012 at 3:44 p.m. (report)

I just wanted to mention that if any college students are interested in applying to our Makership Program, you've got until May 28, 2012 to submit an application! We'd like to help you make something great this summer. More info is here:

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