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Foothill College’s makerspace offers community memberships

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Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Makerspace employee Allen Chen measures the thickness of a piece of wood before using a laser cutter to create an engraved coaster.

With high housing prices and space at a premium, many local residents don’t have extra room for the tools and equipment they need to make creative projects. That’s where the makerspace at Foothill College comes in.

“Fewer and fewer people have garages and spots where they could create little hobby labs,” makerspace director Kas Pereira said. “And so (the makerspace) is an opportunity for people to come and not have to invest in the space and equipment themselves.”

The makerspace has been around for nearly two years, but Foothill only started offering community memberships in September, enabling local residents to take advantage of the space. Memberships cost $150 for the first month and $125 for future months. A three-month package runs $350.

The makerspace is stocked with an array of equipment and supplies, including 3D printers, laser cutters, small computer numerical control lathes, sewing machines, soldering irons, and hand and power tools. There are also computers with software programs like Adobe Creative Suite.

The makerspace opened in December 2017 with a $500,000 grant from the CCC Maker Initiative, funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Workforce and Economic Division.

“The grant ran out in June and so we’re looking at different ways to sustain the space,” Pereira said.

The makerspace is part of the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, which helps provide funding for the makerspace. However, the goal is to have the makerspace become self-sustaining – and offering community memberships is one way to make that happen. Makerspace staff are also working on applying for other grants.

A space to make

In contrast to a culture that is so focused on the virtual world, Pereira said the makerspace offers a chance for people to create tangible objects, often with the aid of technology.

“All of the things that we’re able to do on computers now, we’re now moving back into the physical world,” she said. “You can now create things and then make them real.”

The makerspace has primarily been used by students working on personal projects and is free for Foothill students with a half-time or greater unit load.

As of last week, six local residents had signed up for memberships. The goal is to reach approximately 100 members, the upper limit of what the space could accommodate, Pereira said.

Now that the makerspace is open to the broader community, an open house is scheduled to raise awareness about the new membership model. Staff will help attendees create holiday-themed projects using tools in the space, including making ornaments with the 3D printers and etching wine glasses and coffee mugs.

The open house is slated 1-4 p.m. Saturday in the makerspace, located in Building 4000 at Foothill, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

Starting in the latter half of November, makerspace staff will launch a series of workshops on topics ranging from jewelry making to 3D printing. Participants won’t need to be makerspace members.

For more information on the makerspace, visit krauseinnovationcenter.org/makerspace.

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