Nova Labs August 2018 Newsletter


Nova Labs hosted the kickoff for Empower2Make in July with a great turnout. Guests were greeted by Tae Edell sporting the new Empower 2 Make logo designed by Nova Labs member Anthony Pappas. Anthony is an experienced designer and is looking forward to learning more about CAD 3D modeling, laser cutting and CNC at our space. This is the second time around for this signature Nova Labs event — a 72-hour make-a-thon creating assistive technology coming September 14-16, 2018.


I loved the way volunteers pitched in to get out the August news. Special thanks to the metal shop crew for sharing a behind-the-scenes tour. Thanks for the design work goes to Mary Thompson of On Demand Marketing and Web services

Happy Making!



Thanks to Tech Comm and TC team lead John Hoskins, our new Internet circuit is up and live. Connectivity should be more stable for all users.

A woodshop planer upgrade is on the way thanks to a generous anonymous donation, making possible the purchase of a Shellix Helical Cutter Head.

It’s board recruiting season, and we’d like to ask everyone in the Nova Labs community to help us fill our positions. Please email or talk to a current member of the board if you’re interested in learning more.

>Provided by Margaret Kositch and Lieselot Whitbeck


Reston Museum’s 2nd Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta is almost here!

On Saturday, August 11th, the Reston Museum will host the second annual Cardboard Boat Regatta on Lake Anne. Last year was a resounding success, with 20 boats and hundreds of spectators flocking to Lake Anne to watch!

(Check out last year’s memories on Nova Labs’ Facebook page)

On the day of the event, Nova Labs will once again be running the Dry Dock Tent, where volunteers will have extra cardboard and duct tape to assist teams with last minute boat fixes and to answer any questions about Nova Labs or Maker Faire. Contact Jeanne Marshall if you’d like to hang out and help!

Nova Labs and the Nova Maker Faire have been hard at work updating their boats for the new race; feel free to swing by one of the build sessions – they’re usually coordinated in the Slack chatroom #cardboard_regatta. Shane Smith hopes to improve the temporal, lateral, and a physical stability of the “SS MakerFaire 2.0,” while Sam Winklestein’s team is adding additional warp engines to the “SpaceShip of Zoom.” Paul Chase is unable to improve upon the perfection of his previous “Tetraheboat” (cuz it sank), but will return this year with the “Wisdom Cube.”

Complete details can be found at the Reston Museum’s website:

Provided by Paul Chase

Empower2Make | A Make-A-Thon for Assistive Technology

The 72 hour Make-A-Thon to develop assistive technology takes place September 14-16th. The kickoff party in July brought a great turnout!

For more information on Empower2make check out our website or email

>Provided by Bo Pollett Wernick


A Year+ of Progress in the Metal Shop

It’s been a bit over a year of real growth in the metal shop, thanks to the leadership of a core team of volunteers and a growing interest in the discipline. Led in the earlier days by Mike Hoyer and Mike Hogarty, the team has expanded and refined many elements of the program.

The first Metal Monday – the real start of the “new beginning” – was held on April 3, 2017, after several weeks of Slack channel discussion that started coalescing the metal makers’ cohort. We began with a bi-weekly schedule and four facilitator/session hosts (Curt Welch, Siobhan Williams, Bill Steinhardt, and host wrangler Chip Levy). When a new volunteer (Doug Newton) arrived in late May, 2017, possessed of good skills, near-instant bandwidth, and an energetic leadership attitude, momentum continued to build. Then Jennyfer Peterson, our fearless Lab cat-wrangler, defaulted every host to every week in June – shifting from an “opt in” to an “opt out” hosting model – participation continued to grow, and included 2-4 hosts every week and a consistent and varied handful of member makers and visitors. Steve Malloy stepped up as Assistant Steward, Sam Steel took over welding instruction, Curt spent months figuring out the Matsura CNC mill (which takes most other humans a year). He also contributed to both shops’ buildouts and upgrades. (That whole discussion thread is still in our Slack channel, and it’s oddly fun to read – search the Metalworking channel starting early March 2017)

Since then, the shop has developed a true makerspace identity, with a broadening range of activity clearly on an upward trend. Metal Monday has become a well-established part of the Nova Labs program, with visitors and members (new and long-term, alike) stopping in for technical assistance, tool use, and simple camaraderie. We have a good array of new equipment (MIG and TIG welders, metal shear, box and pan brake, horizontal and vertical bandsaws), improved tool storage, and a healthy inventory of materials and supplies. The blacksmithing program is steadily growing under Bill’s leadership, with many others backing him up. Lead host Chip Levy took over the sheet metal program when Phil Tacas moved to the west coast. Mike Youmans stepped in to lead MIG welding instruction and as sheet metal backup (and hosting) when he can break free from his robotics mentoring. Doug Newton teaches milling and metal lathe and welding, and Siobhan Williams and Steve Malloy have refined and stepped up the pace of Yellow-level instruction. We have an improved physical layout and better lighting, a cadre of skilled and active volunteer stewards and instructors with can-do attitudes and willingness to share; an expanded class schedule, and an effective and well-used communications mechanism (thanks in no small measure to our member colleagues in techcomm, facilities, operations, events, and everyone else). We’ve more than doubled the metalshop cohort list and are adding people every week. We’re working on regularizing machine and shop maintenance systems, bringing greater rigor to our class and instructional structures, and growing our volunteer leadership and involved makers lists.

But, most importantly, we’ve collectively and individually been party to some high-quality, interesting work, from serious rocket-building (yes, actual rocket science!) to developing playground equipment, from entrepreneurial prototyping to creating art objects, ranging from jewelry to swords, car parts and fine crafts, custom tools and shop fixtures, and providing Maker Quest and university-level project assistance whenever requested. After all, all that equipment and potential counts for little unless something actually gets made. Working together, we’ve made a lot of progress. Stop by some time and find out what you can make.’

>Provided by the Metal Shop Crew

Shop Safety Moment

Members, please look out for each other this August (and beyond!).

Remember, minors must be signed-off on a tool AND be supervised by a qualified adult. Parents and guardians should also be supervising. What does that mean in practice?

It means if you see a minor using a red or yellow tool, ask 1) if he or she is the certified on the tool, 2) who is his or her supervising adult, and 3) determine whether or not the supervising adult is qualified to supervise that tool. Do not let the minor operate the tool before you determine he or she is allowed to use it. Be courteous, firm, and respectful. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

If you are working outside for long hours this summer, get water! Stay hydrated and make sure to get some electrolytes in you, too!

>Provided by Patrick Waters

Call for Volunteers

Nova Labs is seeking volunteer help for the following:

  • Programmers needed for Nova Pass development effort
  • Front Desk person for Monday or Wednesday evening, or Saturday afternoon
  • Outreach team members – Help our team lead with the website, social media, pictures, marketing, outreach to external communities
  • Open House tour helpers, 2nd Saturday of each month
  • Fall interns at college and high school level
  • Wiki Information Maintainers

Contact if you’re interested!