Crafting Custom Floral Valentines, Forging Press Arrival, Maker Faire NoVA Coming Soon!



Nova Labs is off and running with a variety of activities as diverse as our membership. In the shops, makers craft custom Valentine’s vases with expertly arranged roses thanks to a collaboration between longtime member and CNC laser engraver/cutter steward Patrick Thompson and florist Melanie Cameron of Mystical Rose Flowers, who recently discovered Nova Labs when Tech Shop unexpectedly shuttered their doors. Makers explore the capabilities of the recently arrived forging press. Girl Scouts discovered making in the second annual Pinewood Derby Workshop made possible by a generous grant from the Northern Virginia Community Foundation. Out and about, Nova Labs volunteers enjoyed productions at the CenterStage made possible by the Reston Community Center including Tamika Mallorydelivering the Keynote Address for the Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration, and performances of The Color Orange, and Peter and the Starcatcher.

This month we are pleased to welcome new key members, including family members (a key member benefit) and a number of longtime volunteers with cybersecurity for youth. We are thrilled to host a monthly Startups Social where ideas for new ventures are shared. The Maker Faire NoVA committee is hard at work preparing for our upcoming signature event hosted at George Mason University.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Enjoy Making!

Marybeth Haneline Signature

Click below for the rest of the newsletter!


Nova Labs Board Retreat

On Saturday, January 6, the seven members of the Board met offsite with Erica Rossi, a professional facilitator, to help us define our goals for the next six months. It was a good day. Thanks to Lieselot Whitbeck for doing most of the legwork to make it happen.

There is a lot of impressive stuff going on at Nova Labs now – membership is growing, meeting attendance is up, our brand is getting stronger, and our network of partners is expanding, to name a few. We also have challenges – planning for Nova Labs 3.0, maintaining and improving our tools, facility and infrastructure, getting better at member recruitment and retention.

At our January 16 member meeting, Tom Welsh discussed our six-month focus as follows:

  1. Member Experience: Improving the experience of being a Nova Labs community member (Brian Jacoby, Lieselot Whitbeck)

  2. Member Sustainment and Growth: Keeping our current members and recruiting new ones (Jim Girardi, Margaret Kositch, Tom Welsh)

  3. AVO (All Volunteer Organization) Roles and Responsibilities: Defining and clarifying who does what (Sam Aparicio, Marybeth Haneline)

The first three priorities don’t exist in a vacuum, though. They are closely related to the second three:

  • Boosting our marketing chops

  • Gathering and analyzing data to make better decisions

  • Improving our technical infrastructure and tools

Working groups are forming for the first three goals, led by the board members listed. If you’d like to join a working group, please get in touch.

All NL community members are encouraged to share their suggestions, ideas, and feedback as we start this important and demanding work.

>> Provided by Margaret Kositch




We are on the march toward Maker Faire NoVA, now on its 5th epic year. This is both a massive celebration of the kind of maker skills and activities found at Nova Labs and gathering of makers of all types of skills and interests. It will be held on Sunday March 18th, from 11AM to 5PM on the George Mason University campus. We outgrew the space last year with the record attendance of 5,000 makers, volunteers, and attendees, and are looking to be able to accommodate much more at the GMU location. Best of all, there is free parking throughout the campus for the day.

This is the premier maker event in the Washington DC metro area which Nova Labs members organize, participate in, and staff by volunteering.

Theo Nazz is among our exhibiting makers this year. Theo won Forged in Fire, The History Channel’s knife and sword making show, twice in 2017, becoming the third Forged In Fire Champion of Champions.  He will be demonstrating bladesmithing.

At some point soon the Call for Makers ( will close for exhibit proposals. We will save some last-minute space for particularly-engaging or innovative makers but will have to be more selective about acceptances. Exhibiting as a maker has always been, and will continue to be free. We have a nominal charge for professional makers (those selling something).

If you choose not to participate as a maker, we need an army of volunteers to help run the event.  Go to to sign up for a slot or two. Volunteers get a free ticket and volunteer t-shirt, and our heartfelt thanks.

If you have questions about Nova Maker Faire or someone asks you about it, try looking at You could be a hero in your office, neighborhood, place of worship, or civic organization by introducing your friends to Nova Maker Faire. Just point them at to get tickets.

Our sponsors ( help make this event happen: Google, the Innovation Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, EAI Technologies, and Fairfax County Library Foundation.

>>Provided by Brian Jacoby


Launch 100 Front Desk


Startups Ignite exists to foster the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Each month, we host an evening of business networking followed by startup pitches from four innovative startups. This is a chance for entrepreneurs to socialize, engage, enjoy, and learn about the Startups-Ignite ecosystem. The next event is February 15 from 6-9 PM at Nova Labs. The link to the meetup event can be found here.

Through our strategic partnerships and network, we connect resources to boost innovation, aligning existing assets to foster a culture of risk taking, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our programs, events, and community efforts focus on educating, connecting, and empowering early-stage ventures. We have three cohorts in our Accelerate24 program per year, and hold regular community startup events to connect the ecosystem at-large, in addition to annual signature events.

>>Provided by Amu Fowler, Executive Director of Startups Ignite



In preparation for the upcoming Girl Scouts Pinewood Derby event, Nova Labs hosted troops 7005 and 709 for a woodshop workshop on January 21. Volunteers guided the scouts in the design and execution of their derby cars, using transfer paper, the bandsaw and scroll saw to achieve their desired shapes.  The girls used the pyrographs and rotary tools to detail their finishing touches on their ultra quick, unique designs. Special thanks to our maker community and robotics team for volunteering.  It was great success for everyone involved and we look forward to hosting troops next year!

>>Provided by Tae Edell

The Board of Directors are excited to announce the appointment of a committee chair and two stewards.  Our volunteers are the life blood of Nova Labs and we thank Jeremy, Steve, and Patrick for their service.







The newly revamped sheet metal capabilities have a class coming down the line! You may have noticed some movement in the metal shop – shifting some equipment around to create a bit better movement through the space. The shear and break are closer together, and near them is the storage for the hand held sheet metal tooling. Keep an eye out for upcoming classes!

Keeping in line with getting folks up and running in the shop on the equipment, the efforts for getting everyone through the yellow tools sign up have been going strong, with additional Saturday classes joining the mix. These classes, along with the re-organization of the shop, are bringing us into a clearer path to getting up and running in the metal shop. Our intrepid metal steward, Mike Hogarty, has plans to re-work the flow of the shop to keep folks from bumping into each other while working with the machinery (a safety issue), and getting more vertical wall storage in order to free up floor space from the various shelving units to make way for new equipment and activities such as a waterjet.

Stay tuned for more metal projects and classes coming down the line.

>>Provided by Siobhan Williams



The metal shop crowdsourced funds to purchase a new forging press from Coal Ironworks. It is a 16 ton hydraulic press specifically designed to squish and release fast enough so that you can get more done while the metal is hot. We will be using it to make layered, patterned Damascus steel and for large projects like hammers, swords, battle axes, railings, gates, and furniture. It may also work well for pressing metal into molds for items like spinners and tops. The press arrived at the Labs last week and every maker who has tried it is overcome by giggles of glee and manic chuckling.

>>Provided by Bill Steinhardt


Plenty going on in the Wood shop.  We have a number of new tools including drum sander, measuring tools, and a powered hand planer.  We’ve also added a new work bench and a couple of new classes: picture framing and furniture building. Cutting boards and yellow tool project courses will be offered in February and March so stay tuned.

The Dust Collector (DC) still needs help, if you are interested in helping (specifically moving materials, etc) please reach out to the wood shop stewards.

>>Provided by Patrick Waters


Nova Labs recently purchased an on-table 4th axis rotary chuck for the ShopSabre CNC.  Members will be able to create even more complex designs by adding a rotary axis to the machine. It will allow for four axis operations on items with diameter less than 7 inches.  The steward is currently working to develop classes utilizing this new addition and hopes to begin offering them sometime in February.

>>Provided by Zack Borschuk


I started 3D printing early in 2010, the RepRap era, when the most advanced machine was the RepRap Prusa.  RepRap is a Replicating Rapid Prototyper – a machine which can reproduce itself without using any precision tools. My Prusa was made with hand-cut threaded and smooth rods, hot-glued on printed “bushings” (the hot glue ensures perfect alignment!) and mostly solid core hookup wire, for some reason, that is now lost to me.

The main reason I built the printer was because I was living in a condo and missed working with my hands. My Dad fixed everything and had a side job roofing, so playing with tools came pretty naturally. The 3D printer was a super-promising machine for a small space. I still consider it the best bang for your buck. A close follow-up reason is I have a general fascination with gears, machines, and eventually kinetic sculptures. I grew up outside of Chicago, and particularly remember the Museum of Science and Industry’s gear stairwell. Plus huge model train layouts, an actual coal mining elevator/train/rock eater, and a German U-Boat from WWII.

Early on I was printing parts for other folks to cobble their own machines together and this eventually led to running 3D printer build groups at Nova Labs. Most of what I’d been printing up until then were repair parts or emblems off of Thingiverse and making things that are hard/impossible to make without a printer – the classic whittling chain, ball in a box, etc. I’d started designing parts to upgrade the printers and working on improved 3D printer designs. I’ve got a Deltabot and a Corexy machine humming away now.

I started making kinetic sculptures when MakerFaires were coming in. I’d taken the printers to MakerFaire, and the motion always attracts. First sculpture was The Chaotic Chain Machine. That took many iterations and showed the issue of infinity. It would jam every few minutes the first time, then every few hours, then every few days – and, of course, you can’t watch it for that long!

Shortly thereafter, I started on the ultimate kinetic sculpture, marble machines Lift a marble up, drop it down, repeat! Forever! I was also thinking of ways to make the machines more interactive and kid-friendly since my daughter was around one year old at the time. The Printed Ball Machine Project was started just because I liked ’em, but I kept it open and distributed so other folks could print, build, and design their own marble machines easily.

BB-8 has been a bit stalled lately, but after seeing his Imperial counterpart I’m a little more interested. A cool looking robot is only cool looking if you can see it so I may create a new shell that has more transparent windows, maybe try casting some clear epoxy in.

Right now I’m working on another, more interactive Maker Faire project – a boat racetrack powered by Shishi Odoshis – to discover what kind of boat runs well in a rain gutter propelled by intermittent water dumps.

More information and updates on these projects can be found:

>>Provided by Paul Chase

Video of 3D Printed Ball Machine by Paul Chase

Left to right: Kiran Malik, Anish Malik, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Tanya Malik, Shawn Malik, Mansi Suresh, Arthur Haneline, Chair Sharon Bulova, Marybeth Haneline


“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. portrays how important it is for society to stand up for they believe in despite the various obstacles that obstruct their path.

Tamika D. Mallory, a powerful and influential leader with a strong voice, truly embodies the ideals of Martin Luther King Junior. During her speech at the Reston Community Center, on the the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, Tamika emphasized the significance of looking for ways to solve various issues that arise in today’s society by forming groups with people who on the broader spectrum agree with your principles and beliefs. Although many believe that the issues of the past are different from the issues that have emerged in the 21st century, Tamika disagrees. In her speech, she stated that while the older generation faced issues such as racial segregation, the current generation struggles with issues like ending discrimination for the  LGBT community. Furthermore, Tamika, a strong advocate for tighter gun restrictions, pointed out how statistics show increased deaths, especially of black men through gun violence.

Listening to Tamika D. Mallory’s speech was very inspiring and motivating. It was also great to meet United States Representative, Gerry Connolly and Fairfax county chairman, Sharon Bulova! As a young leader myself, I felt shocked by the inequality and discrimination that persists in our country after listening to Tamika’s speech. I believe that it is critical for both the current generation and the future generation to help solve the problems of today and tomorrow by creating awareness amongst friends and family and by standing up for what we believe is morally right. As Tamika quoted in her speech, we cannot sit around and turn down the radio believing that everything is alright, because it isn’t. People around us are depending on us to help them because we have the ability to do so. Hence, we should all join our hands in support!

Mansi Suresh, an 11th grader, has competed with FIRST Robotics for a number of years.  This year she put her experience to work mentoring a rookie middle school team from Nova Labs, Game Masters. The team Mansi mentored is advancing the Virginia State Championship upon receiving the honor of Inspire (3rd place) in a regional qualifier while competing against older and more experienced teams.