Hackerspace: A new kind of school
A hackerspace or hackspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or creative space) is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) can meet, socialise and/or collaborate. Hackerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.
Many hackerspaces participate in the use and development of free software, open hardware, and alternative media. They are often physically located in infoshops, social centers, adult education centers, or on university campuses, but may relocate to industrial or warehouse space when they need more room.
The specific activities that take place at hackerspaces vary from place to place. In general, hackerspaces function as centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They usually also offer social activities for their members, such as game nights and parties. They typically provide space for members to work on their individual projects, or to collaborate on group projects with other members. Hackerspaces may also operate computer tool lending libraries, or physical tool lending libraries.
The building or facility the hackerspace occupies is important, because it provides physical infrastructure that members need to complete their projects. In addition to space, most hackerspaces provide electrical power, computer servers and networking with Internet connectivity. Well-equipped hackerspaces may provide machine tools, audio equipment, video projectors, game consoles, electronic instrumentation (such as oscilloscopes and signal generators), electronic components and raw materials for hacking, and various other tools for electronics fabrication and building things. Some hackerspaces provide food storage and food preparation equipment, and may teach courses in basic or advanced cooking. Tools and material for sewing, craft, and art are also important at many hackerspaces.
The individual character of a hackerspace is determined by its members. Many hackerspaces are governed by elected boards selected by active members in good standing. Elected officers may serve predetermined terms, and help direct decisionmaking with regards to purchasing new equipment, recruiting new members, formulating policy, conforming to safety requirements, and other administrative issues.
Membership fees are usually the main income of a hackerspace, but some also accept external sponsors. Some hackerspaces in the US have 501(c)3 status (or the equivalent in their jurisdiction), while others have chosen to forgo tax exempt status. University-affiliated hackerspaces often do not charge an explicit fee, but are generally limited to students, staff, or alumni, although guests from other hackerspaces are usually welcome to visit. Some hackerspaces accept volunteer labor in lieu of membership fees, especially from financially-limited participants.
There is a loose, informal tradition at many hackerspaces of welcoming visitors from other similar organizations, whether across town or internationally. Free exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge are encouraged, especially at periodic gatherings sometimes called "build nights" or "open house days".
(from Wikipedia....go there for active links!)
Open to anyone wanting to learn. Tuition based upon how much you want to take home! Students will work on their own projects, ranging from auto body and fiberglass to ground-up builds and restorations. Centaur 7 kits will be available for those interested in building this kind of car. Go-carts will also be available, ranging from race carts to “Mongoose” style sand rail/ dirt carts with full suspension. Classes will be given based upon demand from students, who otherwise will follow their own direction, with oversight by our experienced staff. Safety will be stressed, but students, not faculty will be the only enforcers of any required safety regulations, beyond signing the mandatory legal waiver(s)
Students will be encouraged to become self sufficient as quickly as possible. This means students will pay for their tuition by working on projects that will make money for themselves or the school directly. Students who have no money and no project of their own will work on school projects and help other students. Some students may only take a class or two, while others will be there full time for many months, working on their own project. Any person who has taken at least one class will have access to the schools facilities. Welding students will make shooting targets, Auto body students will find dented cars in their neighborhood and fix them. Fiberglass students will make Corvette logos to sell at car shows. Electronic students will repair and install home theatre systems. Students will look for apprenticeships regularly. Hot rodders will spend a lot of time in junkyards. Ultimately, we will buy wrecks and sell turnkey cars, which will serve as student portfolios.
I see a school where
everyone is welcome, a communities knowledge base is widened, tools are available for nearly every job, and no tests are given. A place where anyone with a desire to share their knowledge, on any subject there is an interest in, can teach, without permission from the State.
Where students are not
trained for a job, but rather trained to be an entrepreneur, to create his or
her own job, wherever he wants to go. Every welder will be aware of his
“billable hours” while every mechanic will have a sense of customer service.
Self reliance might include changing your own oil, and reusing that oil in a
heater you built yourself to heat your shop.
Where new technologies,
especially “green”, sustainable and/or renewable would be encouraged in
practice and theory along side past and present technologies to develop answers
to questions that haven't even been asked yet. For example, students wanting to
know how to restore a vehicle, or build a Hot Rod would have access to present
and past technologies, (in the form of electronic and printed media, and of
course, instructors with this kind of background) but would build their car
with an awareness of not only different suspension setups, but hubless wheels.
Where integration is as
important as taxonomy; math is part of automotive in the same way physics is
part of welding. How much of each subject is taught is based solely upon what
the student wishes to know, in order to complete his own personal quest. All
learning is directed only by each student. If several students desire a
specific instruction, it may justify an engine rebuilding course that covers
measurements, tools, machining and the like, and the amount of math they need
is the amount they get, if more is desired, then they are free to pursue their
own course, but not free to force others to.
Students could build
biodiesel processors and natural gas compressors to run their converted
vehicles, lawn mowers and generators. Simple, lead-acid battery banks might power
the inverters that run the welders, and could be charged by wind turbines and
micro-hydro generators students build from scratch. Patching a hole in drywall
and building a deck could be given as much or little time as replacing a toilet
and soldering copper pipe.
The Crucible started in
1999 with a grant of less than $2,000 and a 6,000 square foot warehouse. I
believe theirs is an excellent model and starting point. Once a successful
program has been set up in Casper, I believe this kind of school would be needed everywhere.
How about a Free FilmFriday?
Movies with relevance (Max Headroom, The Matrix, The Fountainhead,
Serenity, Captain Blood, etc) would be an excellent community outreach,
bringing in new students, new teachers and more donations. Students could make
a Rube Goldberg style popcorn maker, buttered by a device from Willie Wonka.