Maker Faire NoVa with Theo Nazz at GMU on March 18

March 2018 Newsletter

Global Leadership Reception at the Mexican Cultural Institute

Mónica Martínez Lopez (right), Educational Liaison with the Mexican Cultural Institute greets Maria (center) and Marybeth Haneline (left) of Nova Labs at the Global Leadership Reception, February 2, 2018. Photography by Ricky Bowden, Prime Media Solutions.

The Olympics are the inspiration for the FIRST Global robotics challenge for youth to be hosted this summer in Mexico City, following the inaugural competition this past summer in Washington D.C. at DAR Constitution Hall. Nova Labs volunteers provided critical support over the past year at the enormous undertaking for the new venture. This February, youth leadership from Nova Labs were special guests together with dignitaries from around the world welcoming Mexico as the host country for 2018. Introducing youth leadership to enriching experiences is one of the most rewarding aspects of my volunteer work.

Just as FIRST Global anticipates new possibilities with their move to Mexico City, Maker Faire NoVa welcomes a new host partnership this year. Nearly two years ago, the Maker Faire NoVa steering committee recognized the value of forging new host partnerships for the Maker Faire and began exploring options. This March, that vision is realized as Maker Faire NoVa is proudly hosted in partnership with George Mason University at the George Mason campus. We are indebted to the all-volunteer team led by co-producers Jeanne Loveland and Carl Hutzler for this significantly elevated production. Special thanks to the second lieutenants who lead major areas: Sara Bradley, Todd Snedden, Taylor Sweeney, Asma Chaudhary, Margaret Kositch, and Brian Jacoby.

Rediscover the Joy of Making at Maker Faire NoVa at George Mason University on Sunday, March 18! Maker Faire Nova Tickets are on sale now and are available at a discount before March 14th.

Marybeth Haneline Signature



This month, the board welcomes Doug Newton as our new Metal Shop Steward and we congratulate Mike Hogarty on his new role as Entrepreneur Team Lead. This new position gives focus to one of Nova Labs’ key missions – the support and promotion of entrepreneurship.

As we move toward improving Nova Labs’ infrastructure, the board is currently reviewing proposals for upgraded, business-class Internet service. Nova Labs currently utilizes consumer-class Internet which no longer meets the needs of our growing community. This upgrade will allow for a constant, stable Internet connection – a key component to our technology-heavy maker space.

The board is also working closely with our TechComm team lead, John Hoskins, to analyze current options for upgrading our website infrastructure to allow for a better user experience – and eventually, more robust billing options.

Additionally, we continue to develop and define roles and responsibilities for the key functional areas of our maker space. This process allows us to define areas where the maker space requires a leadership position from within the community. Current examples of this are the Steward Team Lead and the Entrepreneur Team Lead positions.

Provided by Jim Girardi


Nova Labs is honored to be among the nominees for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Washington Innovation Awards Showcase 2018 – Community Impact Innovator of the Year!!! Congratulations to our maker community!

More information can be found here.



“Bill Steinhart teaches the blacksmith open studio at NoVa Labs in Reston. He reminded his student blacksmiths that Theo Nazz – the Champion of Champions of ‘Forged in Fire Season 4’ would be at the upcoming Maker Faire NoVA.”

>Reprinted from “Maker Faire Gets Bigger & Better” by Merica Hobson in the Reston Connection, 14-20 February, 2018.




“During the Reston Camp Expo 2018 held at Reston Community Center on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, Ryan Le, 5, of Wolf Trap tries out a “bot” created by makers at NOVA Labs. From left: NOVA Labs makers Sathvik Narayana, 14 of Centreville and Spencer Allain look on.”

>Reprinted from “Reston Camp Expo Draws Nearly 500 People” by Merica Hobson in the Reston Connection, 21 Jan – 6 Feb, 2018.


More information on Nova Labs Robotics Summer Camps found here.


You could be forgiven for not knowing about Maker Faire Nova. Perhaps you’re new to the area or to Nova Labs. This is the Nova Labs community’s signature event of the year celebrating the diversity of makers and interests at Nova Labs, throughout the extended NOVA area, and in the larger expanse where other makers and makerspaces are found in Virginia, DC, and Maryland. Nova Labs members organize Maker Faire NoVa, participate as makers or maker teams, and staff by volunteering. This culminates an almost-year-round planning cycle led by co-producers Carl Hutzler and Jeanne Loveland.

Maker Faire NoVa 2018 is at George Mason University, Fairfax this year as we have well and truly outgrown our previous location. There is ample onsite parking for makers, volunteers, and attendees.

The organizing team is now stepping into high gear with some of the logistics operations starting to pre-stage material at GMU, layout and mapping, and communication to makers and volunteers.

Now at approximately 130 makers (or maker teams), there is such an interesting range of interests represented this year. All the makers are listed at and are being featured on social networking as part of the outreach effort.

There will be a team of GMU scientists fielding questions from the public. You will know them by their “Ask a Scientist” t-shirts. If you know folks that are still unsure about Area 51, vaccinations, whether we actually went to the moon, or climate change, see them. Separately, NASA will have an exhibit which was located specifically for its advantage in proximity to a loading dock (must be big!).

We are ahead of schedule in terms of volunteer staffing, but there are still a few slots left. 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 some time, we always seem to need help afterwards straightening up and packing away stuff.

If you have questions about Maker Faire NoVa 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 Maker Faire NoVa that first time. Just point them at to get tickets. If you still have questions, direct them to

Our sponsors list has grown ( and they really help make this event happen: Google, the Innovation Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, Fairfax City EDA, Forcewave, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, EAI Technologies, and Fairfax County Library Foundation, just to name a few.

As in previous years, there is a pre-Maker Faire NoVa gathering of makers on March 14th. This Maker Celebration is sponsored by Fairfax City Economic Development Authority and is for makers exhibiting at the Faire and Sponsors. Makers should have received a specific invitation based on their Call for Makers submission. Often they may not get a chance to mingle and discuss their projects because they’re busy showing, demonstrating, or answering questions on the day of the Faire. This is also a chance for makers to get their maker ID badges, parking information, T-shirts (if they arrange for them in advance), and location. Makers will also have an opportunity to talk with some of the Faire sponsors. The Faire committee thanks you for your cooperation for this event.

Provided by Brian Jacoby


We are very excited to have Theo Nazz back at Maker Faire NoVa this year! Theo is also raffling off a custom forged knife from his collection. Buy a raffle ticket online now (through March 18, 2018) or at the Faire and we will pull a random winner the day after. All proceeds donated to Nova Labs.


Nova Labs and Inventors Network of the Capitol Area (INCA) welcomed Mr. Richard Levy on February 13. With over 30 design & utility patents, and over 12 books, including “Toy & Game Inventors Handbook,” Richard is a world recognized expert. Through stories of his trials and tribulations as an inventor, he shared the key factors of his success, and how he has successfully licensed his products to companies including Hasbro, Mattel, General Mills, P&G. Nova Labs incubators, Callye Keen and Mike Hogarty of Red Blue Collective, had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Levy after his presentation.




Candles, fine wine, golden forks, romantic music, and… blacksmithing? That’s how we do Valentine’s Day at Nova Labs!

For the first time ever, Nova Labs hosted “Makesperience” to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Couples came to take a class of their choice to spend time together, learn something new, and enjoy a romantic dinner to top it off. During class and dinner, participants deepened their connection with their significant other as well as made new connections with other makers. After the couples took their chosen class, they entered the classroom for dinner. The atmosphere of the classroom was transformed to a romantic restaurant where people could celebrate their love for each other and for making. Décor was added to give a more romantic vibe, but all the tools remained. Married maker couple Joshua and Lauren Capehart attended the event. Joshua notes, “The space still felt like a makerspace, which is a good thing.” Members also gave Makesperience some finishing touches by providing real china and fine wine for the dinner.

Makesperience provided couples with a truly unique Valentine’s Day experience that did not compromise on romance and kitsch. Jennyfer Peterson came up with the idea for this event as an alternative to going to an over-crowded, expensive restaurant. This would give couples a chance to connect in a creative way and spend time making something together. Patrick Waters, better known as the “Woodshop Cowboy,” taught one of the Makesperience classes, Woodworking in the Kitchen. “I wanted them to have… time together [and] skills learned,” says Patrick, who is most proud of his corny power ballad soundtrack he played in his class.

Perhaps one of the best parts of Makesperience was that the participants were a mix of new attendees and long-time Associate and Key members. The new attendees were warmly welcomed by Nova Labs more seasoned makers. As always, everyone excitedly collaborated about their ideas and projects. While talking to other makers is a daily occurrence at Nova Labs, for the first time people could talk about making as a couple to other couples in a romantic setting. For some couples, making is at the forefront of their relationship for much of the time. This is not the case for every couple, however, and Makesperience gave couples a chance to connect through making, for both experienced and new makers.

Valentine’s Day 2018 was quite special at Nova Labs this year, thanks to Makesperience. Some couples got to make something together for the first time, while other couples added to their repertoire of projects. Time spent together is priceless, and spending that time at Nova Labs makes it that much better. Especially when the classroom is lit with nothing but candles and has slow, romantic music playing in the background.

See you and your significant other at Makesperience 2019!

>Provided by Yarden Cottrell



Nova Labs continues to grow and evolve. The many challenges are a daunting task for the volunteer core. The operational arm of Nova Labs handles the things members and associates interact with. We fondly refer to these people as our Stewards.

As Stewards, the responsibilities and roles abound. Everyone has their personal touch. On the other hand, Stewards need to know what is happening on a global scale. A forum was needed to get our Stewards to sit down and talk about all things Nova Labs.

From this, StewardCon 2018 was born. The Stewards discussed finances, resources, roles, and a few other topics while enjoying a nice home-cooked meal. The Nova Labs Stewards hope to keep the dialog going on a quarterly basis.

Provided by Shane Smith



March 13, 7 – 9PM, Build a Humanitarian Drone with Team RhinoHawk 
Team RhinoHawk will be developing and flying a huge drone to compete in the UAV Challenge Outback 2018 competition. They are looking for dedicated enthusiasts in the areas of structures, electronics, software, and media content to join them.

March 18, 11 – 5PM, 5th Annual Maker Faire NoVa at George Mason University Fairfax Campus
Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these “makers” to show hobbies, experiments, projects. We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Glimpse the future and get inspired!

March 19, 7 – 8:30PM, Forged in FireTales from behind the scenes with Grand Champion Theo Nazz 
Theo Nazz won The History Channel’s Forged in Fire twice and lived to tell about it. Come hear what he learned about competition, publicity, and how his win affected him as an entrepreneur.

March 29, 7 – 10PM, Quantum Computing DC: Hudson Quantum Initiative (HQI): The Intersection of Policy and Quantum Technology
Speaker Idalia Friedson is a Research Associate and Project Manager at Hudson Institute, where she works on issues relating to national security, including cybersecurity and technology, defense strategy, and energy. She will discuss HQI’s recent work and broad policy goals as well as the plan for Hudson’s upcoming conference to set standards for quantum communication networks.



Nova Labs is seeking volunteer help for the following:

  • Electronic Steward
  • Helpdesk Software Evaluator
  • Wiki Information Maintainers

Contact if you’re interested!


Nova Labs is on Instagram! Follow @nova-labs for the latest photos of events and projects. Tag @nova-labs in photos of your Nova Labs made projects to be showcased on our account!

Maker Faire NoVa also has an account! Follow @makerfairenova for all the latest happenings on the upcoming Maker Faire NoVa.


Are you a ‘Young Entrepreneur’ under the age of 25? Do you know a Young Entrepreneur? Around Reston Magazine is establishing a new feature segment that will share the story of one Reston/Herndon ‘Young Entrepreneur’ per issue. Currently Around Reston is accepting stories for consideration. This is a great opportunity for some lucky entrepreneur to get maximum exposure in front of 60,000 local readers! Please send your short story about you and your product/services to Around Reston, Feel free to include why you feel you are a best candidate! Be sure to mention you read about it in the Nova Labs Newsletter!

Provided by Kat Toussaint, Around Reston Magazine


My name is Olivia Morgan. I operate my own industrial design and product fabrication business. My mission is to help inventors with cool ideas get their products to market. In addition to my clients’ projects, I develop my own designs. I am so grateful to be a new member of Nova Labs and be able to use this space to complete some of this work. One of my products currently in development is Mag.Net. It is a flexible, organically shaped net that uses earth-magnets to mount to any magnetic surface. You may have seen some prototype versions hanging around Nova Labs. Originally conceived for use in kitchen storage, it’s use has expanded to a variety of applications. More information is available at Please feel free to join my mailing-list to become eligible for free Mag.Net prototypes.

Before becoming a product designer, I was a model shop manager for ZGF Architects, one of the largest architectural firms in the US. With three years experience, I moved on in order to expand and diversify my fabrication and design skills.

I became involved with Nova Labs in September 2017 when I got the amazing opportunity to learn the concepts of metal milling with Mike Hogarty. Working here has been a significant source of inspiration for me. I am so happy to be a part of a community so enthusiastic about learning and teaching fabrication skills to others!

I will be showcasing Mag.Net at the Maker Faire NoVa 2018 on March 18 at George Mason University.

More of my own work can be found at

January 2018 Newsletter


Generosity and Gratitude. These traits play well together and are found in abundance at Nova Labs. The Shops and Orange Bay overflowed in December with diverse gift projects underway by makers. The banner photo in this newsletter features a hand-crafted, customized cutting board that is finding its way to into the hands of valued teachers and under many trees, thanks to one of the shop’s popular classes.

In the week before Christmas, as the Board convened for the year’s final work session, we were surprised and deeply touched to receive a gift of appreciation from the maker community. The cleverly constructed, laser cut box filled with chocolates cast with the Nova Labs gear is truly special for the thoughtfulness and collaboration that went into the creation. Special thanks to Steve Fritzinger for leading this effort; the gift is warmly received.

We are grateful for the generosity that make Nova Labs possible. The makerspace is a hub of activity thanks to the many skilled volunteers running the front desk, open hours, shops, classes, technology, membership, marketing, facilities, events, entrepreneurship program, and more.

Happy New Year!

Click below for the rest of the newsletter!

Continue reading

December 2017 Newsletter


The Orange Bay was recently awash in the fragrance and beauty of fresh cut flowers. This welcome addition was brought on by an unwelcome event – the sudden closing of the doors of TechShop earlier that week. Being neighborly, Nova Labs opened our doors to the displaced makers – including Melanie Cameron of Mystical Rose Flowers, who was in the midst of arranging flowers for a wedding that weekend. Thanks to our many volunteers who graciously stepped up to lend a hand however needed.

In the days immediately following the closure of TechShop, we posted an open letter to the TechShop members and TechShop-powered businesses to offer support and help from the Nova Labs community. We created a survey for TechShop members to gather interests and needs and are matching Tech Shop makers with Nova Labs key members with the necessary skills. It is working so well that we plan to incorporate what we are learning for everyone who expresses interest in joining Nova Labs. We are providing support to TechShop members while also preserving what makes Nova Labs a unique, volunteer-driven community: our culture.

We are fortunate to have recently added wonderful talent to the Board of Directors and hired a Makerspace Coordinator, ending the year on a strong note. As we close out 2017, Nova Labs celebrates six wonderful years of making. We look forward to the New Year!





Click below for the rest of the newsletter!

Continue reading

November 2017 Newsletter


We hosted a welcoming Open House for Manufacturing Day with a number of neighbors stopping by to check us out! Our guests included the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), corporate sponsor for Launch 100, and Armature, a newcomer. The team from Armature followed up with a return visit to learn more about us and to tell the Nova Labs story. We connected over a love of process and of embracing the work that comes with taking on complex challenges.

Thank you Mike Hogarty and Callye Keen of Red Blue Collective, for hosting and organizing Manufacturing Day and Launch 100 — wonderful events to showcase manufacturing and entrepreneurship at Nova Labs!

In other news, Tara resigned from the Makerspace Coordinator position for family and career reasons. Tara was a delight to work with and we thank her for sharing her many wonderful talents with the maker community. We thank Tara for brightening up the space and getting us messy makers a bit more organized.

Nova Labs is winding up the search for directors and re-opening a search for staff.

In this issue, you will find links to a video story of the Launch 100 pitch event, a Manufacturing Day followup published by Armature, and a Nova Labs job posting. Please consider sharing to help grow Nova Labs.

Please join us at the member meeting and welcome our newest directors — RSVP today!

Thank you, 

Click below to read the rest of the newsletter!

Continue reading

October 2017 Newsletter



We are thrilled to welcome Tara Youngborg, Nova Labs’ own Makerspace Coordinator. Tara is an artist and a maker, and comes to us highly recommended from Bowdoin College where she was a Visual Arts Technician. Tara is here to help our community grow. If you see her, please introduce yourself and make her feel welcome in our community.  You can find Tara here on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights.

There are many people who brought us to this wonderful place. Jennyfer Peterson, last year, founded the Service and Hospitality team, to fill the gap in a volunteer capacity while we strengthened our revenue stream. The work done by this all volunteer team is critical in defining the  Makerspace Coordinator role and providing a support team. Since January of this year, Suzanne Chanesman, Bean Design and Andrew Albosta, faithfully publish the newsletter. The August newsletter on the Nova Labs website attracted our finalists to this opportunity. Sam Aparicio shared his considerable recruiting and interviewing talents, to craft the winning profile that attracted the attention of suitable candidates and guide the interview process. Jim Girardi, while transitioning the role of treasurer also played an instrumental role on the hiring team, along with Jennyfer Peterson. Patrick Waters led the team to document Nova Labs policy, laying the necessary groundwork for hiring paid staff. Nine months ago, in establishing priorities, the Board prioritized defining policy as essential before the first hire. It is incredibly satisfying to reflect on the amazing contributions of so many talented members to bring us to this place.

We are well positioned for the work on the horizon. Sam Aparicio is leading the Nominating Committee team for the Board Positions opening up. In the coming months, the Board will work on crafting policy around how the Board operates. We will also develop a succession plan for the role of President. Taken together, along with policy put in place over the past year, the organization will be in a stronger position to build Nova Labs 3.0.

Please join us in welcoming Tara Youngborg to our team!

Thank you, 



The board is pleased to welcome our latest Key Members: Eric Link, Michele Tulley, John Youmans, and Ying Zhang.

The board also hired Tara Youngborg as Nova Labs’ first paid position, the Makerspace Coordinator. Please be sure to introduce yourself and welcome her to our community.

Accounting-wise, Nova Labs’ receivables are currently below $4K which means that fewer people owe dues, fees, etc. If you’re still having trouble with Stripe or another payment system, please contact Jim Girardi to help resolve the issue.

As there will be two open board positions (after Jim Sweeney’s term is over), the board commissioned a nominations committee to identify and vet possible board candidates. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact the committee chair, Sam Aparicio.

Please feel free to reach out to the board members if you have any questions.

 HAPPENINGS: Call for Board Candidates

Help Us Fill Two Board of Director Positions

Do you know someone amazing who could help the Board in its leadership of the Nova Labs community? We are looking to fill two positions. Great candidates have a passion for making, bring business skills, show good judgment and are willing to put in the effort to drive key initiatives. Please send in contact info to Have questions? Contact:

Sam Aparicio (Chair)  |  Jim Sweeney  |  Bo Pollett Wernick


HAPPENINGS: Member Spotlight


Curt Welch

Hospitality and services would like to express rather obnoxious and loud praise for all the cool little important things Curt Welch has been doing round the labs.

If I listed everything, it’d take a while. There are a few people like Curt who help me with the small jobs. Hanging the white boards, relocating cabinets for rentals.

One of the key, but essential, projects Curt has tackled is creating hanging storage in the metal shop, and a locked outdoor tool cabinet- lots of people use it but not many people know that it is all thanks to Curt that we have these storage solutions!

>>> provided by Jennyfer Peterson and Mike Hogarty

 HAPPENINGS: 2017 Woodshop Roundup and Awards

Patrick and the Woodshop Stewards would like to recognize the contributions of the following volunteers:

Shop Volunteer: Larry R
Person who has made a great impact in shop over the course of the year

Over-Sharer: Frank S
Person will share not only knowledge, but also show and tell projects during meetings

Over-Engineer Engineer that Could:  Will P& Zach B
This is for the most ridiculous project!

Who Made That?: John S & Will P
This is based off the number of times a tour guide has to explain what the heck that is to visitors- this is certainly an award of ambition, not completion.

Slacker of the Year: Curt W
This member contributes online in our Slack chat the most

I Learned from You: Philip, Norm, Larry R. Frank S, Patrick W.
Acknowledgements of woodworkers that have taken on mentor roles for the Nova Labs woodworking community

Volunteer Appreciations: Curt W, Adam G, Siobahn W
Nova Labs members have reached out and acknowledged these three volunteers for their work throughout the year, though they are not the only wonderful volunteers we have had in the wood shop this year!

UPDATE: Safety

At Nova-Labs, one of our main goals is to make this a environment that prioritizes safety. There are several parts to this effort:

  • Our safety policy

    • You can find it on the wiki

  • Our safety committee

    • Which is meeting soon to review recent incidents and hot spots

  • Each of you!

    • If you see something unsafe, it is your responsibly to say something.

    • As stated in our safety policy – every person in the shop is expected to use work-stop authority to intervene and stop activities until safety procedures are adhered to when they witness unsafe work practices.

Keeping the shop and space safe is one of the most important things we do as a community.

>>> Provided by Lieselot Whitbeck

Nova Labs at the 1st Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta

The Nova Labs Navy

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017On Saturday, August 12, Nova Labs participated in the first Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta! The regatta, hosted by the Reston Museum at Lake Anne, went from 2 PM to about 4 PM and had over twenty participating teams – three of which were from Nova Labs! One boat was built by a Nova Labs team and another built to represent the Maker Faire NoVa – both participated in the Navigator Class (adults and students). Another craft, called the “Tetraheboat” built by Paul Chase, competed in the Skipper Class (adults).

Cardboard skeleton for the Nova Labs boat. Photo by Curt Welch.

Cardboard skeleton for the Nova Labs boat. Photo by Curt Welch.

Teams were only allowed to use cardboard, duct and masking tape, wood glue, and water-based paints. The Nova Labs boat, which utilized advanced CAD design, a gratuitous amount of laser cutting, and an innumerable number of human-hours, was voted “Most Likely to Float” during the design contest.

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Maker Faire NoVa’s boat embodied the spirit of teamwork, learning, and making. While Maker Faire’s boat did not make it far past the launch point, the craft turned out beautifully and got the word out about the fantastic Maker Faire NoVa. This team also won third place in the Navigator Class! Boat Maker Faire NoVa was crewed by: Shane, Jackson, and Dylan Smith.

Paul and his Tetraboat. Photo by Jim Girardi.

Paul and his Tetraheboat. Photo by Jim Girardi.

Tetraheboat was constructed with no plan – just a humble experiment with nature’s favorite platonic solid. Tetraheboat initially did a flip in the water and then pressed on to survive the rough seas of Lake Anne for a full run of over seven minutes. Scandalously, endurance was not a metric for award. Tetraheboat was commanded by the now-infamous Paul Chase.

Overall, the contest was filled with impressive and creative designs, good sportsmanship, exciting races, and spectacular sinkings (best sinking won the coveted “Titanic” award)!

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017For the Navigator Class, team Nova Labs came in First Place at 2:16. The team was awarded an epic cardboard trophy which was also designed and built by the Nova Labs team – out of cardboard, no less.

Talking about Tetraheboat. Photo by Shane Smith.

Talking about Tetraheboat. Photo by Shane Smith.

Nova Labs and Maker Faire NoVa were in-kind non-profit sponsors of the event and ran a dry dock booth with supplies for quick, last-minute repairs. Remember, you can never bring enough duct tape!

Many thanks to all the volunteers, including the organizer Jeanne Marshall, Sam Winkelstein, Shane Smith, Curt Welch, Richard Freytag, Paul Sorensen, Dave Fritts, Carl Hutzler, Keane Peterson and the numerous makers who dropped in on occasion. In addition, a shout out to the dry dock volunteers including Lieselot Whitbeck, Sally Byer, and Jennifer Meinelp!

For more information about the event, please visit the Reston Museum.

For more photos and videos of the event, please check out these galleries:

Andrew Albosta | Jim Girardi

Curt Welch videos: Team Nova Labs | Tetraheboat

>>> provided by Jim Girardi. Photos by Andrew Albosta unless otherwise indicated.

September 2017 Newsletter


Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Nova Labs closed out summer with a splash! Nova Labs made many wonderful contributions to the inaugural Reston Cardboard Regatta – look for a detailed post on the blog soon.

eclipseLater in August, Nova Labs was a great place to experience the Solar Eclipse. There were two live feeds in the Orange Bay. In one feed, NASA tracked the Solar Eclipse across the continent. The other traced the view from the front lawn, using a specially equipped camera set up by Nova Labs’ own Bryce Peterson. The DC Area Drone User Group (DC DUG), the Smithsonian, and TechShop DC-Arlington generously provided solar eclipse glasses for safe viewing. Nova Labs Robotics workshop participants joined with a few dozen members and guests in the activities. Aimen, one of the participants reflected, “I had fun watching the great American solar eclipse.”

Along with the summer adventure, work continued through the summer months to support Nova Labs’ membership. In August, the board adopted the Nova Labs Membership Policy. This follows earlier work done to provide the Safety Policy and Code of Conduct. Together, these documents provide guideposts for Nova Labs’ growing membership. We are grateful to Patrick Waters for leading this effort.

There is an open search process for a director to serve a partial term, and we recently welcomed Jim Girardi, our newly appointed director and treasurer. Scroll down to Updates for more on this.

Thank you,



UPDATE: Board of Directors Service Opportunity

Nova Labs is currently seeking a volunteer to serve as secretary on the Board of Directors with skills in communications. Responsibilities include community building, strategic communications, and strategic planning. Before starting board service, the selected individual must agree to key membership, if not already.

The open term is through 2018. Lieselot Whitbeck is serving as secretary in the interim.

Interested individuals will have an opportunity for a conversation with Nova Labs community leaders, facilitated by Callye Keen. To nominate a candidate, or volunteer yourself, please contact Callye or one of the directors.

>>> Provided by Jim Girardi

Nova Labs Key Member Andrew Albosta traveled to Tennessee to view the total eclipse. His Facebook Live videos were viewed at the Nova Labs viewing party, and he came back with this stacked photo of the entire eclipse.

Nova Labs Key Member Andrew Albosta traveled to Tennessee to view the total eclipse.
His Facebook Live videos were viewed at the Nova Labs viewing party, and he came back with this stacked photo of the entire eclipse.

August 2017 Newsletter


LFP-featureimg“Team Ethiopia needed a hex driver so I borrowed one from Team Bahamas.” Maria, one of the teen volunteers from Nova Labs, was problem solving at the 2017 FIRST Global inaugural international robotics challenge for youth at DAR Constitution Hall. Maria was aware that there was a spare parts station with a line (staffed by yet another Nova Labs volunteer). Yet she recognized that this inter-team swap was a quicker solution, leveraging relationships she had just formed with these international teams. This is just one exchange illustrating the value that volunteering at FIRST Global brings to teens – teens who rose before dawn to arrive at the competition by 6:30 a.m., five days in a row – and were exhausted, yet eager, for more after the closing ceremony.

At the inaugural FIRST Global challenge, there were robotics teams representing nearly 160 countries, all under the same roof, for four intense days this July. Nova Labs provided hundreds of volunteer hours from dozens of teens and adults over the last several months, culminating in the competition. This newsletter highlights a sampling of the latest efforts. Over the years, Nova Labs, which places a high value on outreach, has fostered collaboration with mentors and robotics teams at area schools, positioning us to step up to this amazing service opportunity. The opportunity shines well-deserved national attention on Marshall High School teens who went above and beyond to make this a success.

FIRST Global President, Joe Sestek, recently shared with the volunteers, “Please know that without you, FIRST Global would not have been the measure it was…you made its reach go beyond our grasp, and I will always be beholden to you for that.” I echo the sentiments of this former Navy admiral and statesman, who expresses so elegantly for FIRST Global, the gratitude I feel for Nova Labs volunteers. Volunteering is what Nova Labs does best. I am humbled by the strength and quality of Nova Labs volunteers that come through for our fledgling organization, time and again, and allow us to realize more than I can imagine.





This month, the board continued the effort to hire Nova Labs’ first paid position. As you’ll see in this month’s newsletter, we’ve posted the job description. We’re very excited about taking this first step into our next phase of the nonprofit world.

This month, Nova Labs made two capital acquisitions – a new flammables cabinet for the woodshop and a new industrial sewing machine for the Crafter’s Cove. Both should be setup in short order. In addition, the board also approved the purchase of a defibrillator (AED) for emergency situations.

As for internal board news, Jim Sweeney is working with Jim Girardi to transition the treasurer office in the coming months. Also, there is an additional open board position, stay tuned for more updates on that.

As always, please feel free to reach out to the board members on Slack, e-mail, or in person if you have any questions, concerns, or creative ideas (that’s a given!).

>>> provided by Jim Girardi


HAPPENINGS: Industrial Sewing Machine Arriving

IndustrialSewing_img2The Crafters Cove just got an incredible upgrade, we are expanding our capabilities in multiple areas…with one new device.

The Consew 206RB-5 industrial sewing machine is capable of sewing a wide range of materials from regular fabrics to almost a 1/2 inch of leather. Other materials include all weights of canvas, multiple layers of the heaviest denim, any cordura nylon fabric, neoprene, thick quilts, etc. Basically, whatever that can fit under the foot can be sewn with a few exceptions, of course. So you will be able to tackle and complete a wide variety of interesting projects.

Classes on the use of the new sewing machine will commence around mid-August.

IndustrialSewing_img1Since this machine is able to sew leather, beginning leather working classes using the sewing machine will start before the end of August.

Leather working is a broad area and one class, broken into two sessions, will in no way cover the gamut. It will, however, provide a space for those interested in exploring the wide world of leather work.

>>> provided by Kirk Slowe (including LEATHERWORK)

[ Kirk Slowe, Nova Labs Associate, previously a member Tinkermill, a larger makerspace in Colorado (they have over 450 paying members).]


HAPPENINGS: Dog Days of Summer with Nova Labs’ own Robotics Workshops

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Workshop Lead and FRC Team Captain 5549

Lead Mentor Elena is in her third year volunteering with Nova Labs Robotics. FRC Team 5549 received national news coverage for their work mentoring Team Iran for the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge this July.

NBC Now:

NBC Washington:


HAPPENINGS: Marshall High FRC Team 5549 Mentors Team Iran at Nova Labs

TeamIran_img1Over the course of the FIRST Global happenings at the makerspace, it was brought to the attention of the volunteers that it was impossible to ship a kit of parts to Team Iran due to tight security and sanctions. Thankfully, local FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5549 from Marshall High school stepped up to lend a hand. Through a series of Skype calls, pictures of designs, and late nights, the team built a robot from the FIRST Global kit according to the designs and strategy of Team Iran.

TeamIran_img2After weeks of work in their school as well as the Robot Corral, they finally welcomed Team Iran at the airport on July 11th. The teams returned to the corral for a Persian feast generously donated by Amoo’s Restaurant of McLean and a happy introduction to the robot. Over the course of the competition, members of Team 5549, volunteering for FIRST global, continued to help out the team as well as the whole event. Team Iran departed on July 25th, having witnessed the experience of a lifetime.

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Captain, FRC Team 5549

HAPPENINGS: Volunteering behind the scenes with FIRST Global

Volunteering at GlobalFIRST Global brought to Nova Labs an official competition field in early summer for use in training and demonstration. Not only did officials train on the field in the Robot Corral, it was also used for Team Afghanistan who was denied a visa until days before the competition. Afghan Americans practiced running Team Afghanistan’s robot in the Robot Corral in preparation to stand in for the Afghan team.

A hardy team of volunteers battled the sun, heat, humidity, and birds to install the practice fields on the south veranda of DAR Constitution Hall. It was teamwork of the highest degree (figuratively and actually). There was even a volunteer who answered the Meetup call for volunteers and trekked downtown to assist.

There was a slight delay because the foundation platform on the veranda was not wide enough. We pressed forward to assemble all of the pieces we could, and positioned them for final assembly when the platform was widened. It took a solid team of build professionals to make it all work. Despite the heat, we accomplished much in a few hours. We stayed hydrated and got way cool FIRST Global water bottles.

During breaks, we cooled off inside Constitution Hall. Lots of activity to ready the venue. Country banners galore and serious activity to set up the main stage. Note: the AC works really well inside – it was comfy cool inside.

>>> Provided by David Link

Field Leaves Nova Labs  |   Set-Up Practice Field  |  Inside Field Setup  |  Competition

HAPPENINGS: Portable Magic – Nikki Rooney, Seed Grant Awardee

Have you ever been to an escape room? If so, you’ve probably see the myriad ticks, puzzles, codes, and technology that make them fun and engaging. Nikki Rooney, one of Nova Labs’ seed grant awardees, became involved in puzzle solving and puzzle making almost 10 years ago – this love of code breaking, clue finding, and problem solving inspired her to moonlight at an escape room (right in Herndon!) where she gained experience running the rooms, brainstorming puzzles, and even working on some of the electronics.

Through her work, she realized that the same puzzle theories, combined with available technology, could be utilized to help kids learn, explore, and improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills while, at the same time, having a “magical” experience. Since no such thing existed, she took it upon herself to use what she had learned to create interactive puzzles for her children. And what’s even better? Her kids don’t have to go to an escape room as she’s made them portable – and as anyone who’s traveled with kids knows, mobile entertainment is always a challenge. Like an actual escape room, all the puzzles are connected through content, but unlike an escape room, they are all physically modular. For example, one of her projects, a jigsaw puzzle, when completed, lights up and gives a clue to the next puzzle.

Nikki’s creations use multiple technologies that’s she’s learned about through her work experience as well as through Nova Labs classes. These include Arduino, Raspberry Pi, RFID, reed switches (reacts to the presence of a magnetic field), and more. We’re excited to see the final versions of her imaginative designs.

UPDATE: Board of Directors Service Opportunity

Nova Labs is currently seeking a volunteer to serve as secretary on the Board of Directors with skills in communications. Responsibilities include community building, strategic communications, and strategic planning. Before starting board service, the selected individual must agree to key membership, if not already.

The open term is through 2018, to complete the term of Kelli Kedis Ogborn, who recently resigned. Lieselot Whitbeck is serving as secretary in the interim.

Interested individuals will have an opportunity for a conversation with Nova Labs community leaders, facilitated by Callye Keen. To nominate a candidate, or volunteer yourself, please contact Callye or one of the directors:

Contact Info for Board of Directors  |  Callye Keen

UPDATE: Nova Labs is Hiring!

Nova Labs is hiring its first paid position – a makerspace coordinator! This is an important moment for any non-profit – the hiring of its first paid staff. We’re looking for a customer service superstar who can coordinate events at the makerspace, ensure they run smoothly, make everyone feel welcome, and assist the President with membership management tasks.

Initially, this will be a part-time position of roughly 20 hours per week (position may be shared). We’re excited about this important step as Nova Labs continues to grow and prosper.

Direct Referrals  |  Job Description

>>> Provided by Jim Girardi

July 2017 Newsletter


“Here is the original 3D printed prosthetic hand.” 3D Printer build group lead Paul Chase demonstrated the working prosthetic as we prepared for the FIRST Global Innovation Awards. Next Paul pulled out a newer model hand with missing components that didn’t work. “Why would I want to bring that?” I asked. Paul answered my question with a question “Is there value to iteration?” So I packed the hand to showcase the progressive nature of innovation the next day with young entrepreneurs (John Link pictured leading the demo). All of the participating teams presented innovative ideas that won a spot in the final rounds of the international pitch contest. I asked if anything had changed since the regional competition that led up to this event; Every team had improved on their design.

In addition to Nova Labs encouraging young entrepreneurs at the FIRST Global Innovation Awards, Nova Labs hosted Launch100 — our inaugural pitch event to foster entrepreneurship in the broader community served by Nova Labs. Launch100 is featured in this issue with the focus on the entrepreneurship called out in our mission.

The value placed on iteration is serving Nova Labs well as we continue with the initiative to roll out policy in an iterative fashion, learning and listening as we go. A Safety Policy and Code of Conduct have been approved. The shop is reorganized to better serve our growing needs — a huge effort that affirms the wonderful commitment of the volunteer membership to keeping our space beautiful and functional.


The Board is pleased to welcome Jim Girardi to the Board of Directors following a search to fill the vacancy from the previous treasurer’s resignation. Jim, an enthusiastic maker and member of Nova Labs, brings financial skills and a love of entrepreneurship. Jim Sweeney and Jim Girardi will work on transitioning the treasurer role over the coming months. Please join us in welcoming Jim Girardi to this leadership role.





Continue reading

June 2017 Newsletter


Lieselot with her marquetry project.

Lieselot shows off what she accomplished at the french marquetry session.

Nova Labs was honored to co-host with the Washington Woodworkers Guild a full weekend of Marquetry in May. The course was co-led by a wonderful father-daughter team who brought complementary skills. One of my favorite parts was the self-discovery in the early morning hours before the second full day of instruction. I arrived early and worked through combinations of the pieces I had cut out the day before. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a creative side as I experimented with the color choices. This first exploratory course was well-received by all — and an in-depth view is provided in this issue.

Nova Labs welcomes partnerships to create new opportunities for discovery. More ventures are underway as a result of longtime relationships between members of the Nova Labs community and partner organizations. In Launch100, corporate sponsors are joining forces with the makerspace to foster entrepreneurship. In partnership with FIRST Global and FIRST Robotics teams, Nova Labs is making an impact around the globe in STEM outreach.

Along with fostering partnerships, Nova Labs continues to work on systems to support innovative programming. Nova Labs is pleased to host an upgraded network with many thanks to the perseverance and dedication of John Hoskins, Michael Douglas, Robert Scullin, Corey Sheldon and colleagues. In a separate effort, the Board is pleased to introduce a comprehensive safety policy crafted by an ad hoc committee led by Patrick Waters. These are successful outcomes resulting from significant efforts that will enrich our working environment.


The stewards team welcome John Seamen with the Lathe and Connor Bacon with Plastics / Composites. On the Nova Labs Board, Lieselot Whitbeck is assuming the responsibilities of Secretary. Kelli Kedis Ogborn resigned her position on the Board for family and career reasons. She will continue her work on the TOM / Hackathon Planning Committee. Kelli was a valued contributor to the Board and we thank her for sharing her talents.



It’s getting better all the time.

At the May board meeting, in addition our regular activities like voting in new members (welcome Siobhan!), reviewing financials (our books are balanced – Thanks Jim!), and approving major expenditures (the new laser cutter is paid for and will be delivered soon!), the Board also reviewed the results of major efforts going on throughout the labs – many of which will be released soon. Coming attractions include a “Nova Labs Safety Program & Policy Manual”, a new board member, a new “composites” steward, and a redesigned instructor incentives program. In addition, the board has started to discuss the idea of hiring our first paid staff member. We are still VERY early in that process – working towards writing a job description.

As always – we love to hear from you. If you think there is something that needs our attention, if you have a question, or if just want to chat, come find one of us on slack, on email, or around the lab.

Happy Making!

>>> provided by Lieselot (on behalf of the board)



UPDATE: The Network Upgrade

The network team, Michael Douglas and Robert Scullin, started to spend a lot of time documenting the Nova Labs network when it became apparent how the relatively old equipment was straining under the load. In some cases, they were limited in the troubleshooting tools available from the legacy hardware. That’s all behind us now!

In April, they (with John Hoskins and Corey Sheldon providing cabling support) completed the network update, replacing all the old network hardware (router, firewall, switches) with new(er) models. We’re now supporting IPv6 addressing on wired Ethernet connections and are working to extend that through the wireless network as well. The DNS and DHCP services have been moved to a virtual machine on new hardware, which should make them much more reliable.

In related news, we’re now hosting a RIPE (, the European network registry) network probe, available at While helping RIPE get more data about general Internet reachability and latency, we’re able to use it to watch our network connection continuously.

>>> provided by Brian Jacoby

HAPPENINGS: TOM DC Booth at the 2017 AIPAC Conference


June03In April The TOM DC group, based out of Nova Labs, presented its work with the TOM Global Group, based out of Israel, at the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference. The goal of the conference was to show how people are supporting the effort to build a better world. The TOM DC group had a huge booth where we demonstrated some the of tools and technologies that were developed at last year’s TOM DC event, held at Nova Labs. 

The 2016 TOM DC event was a 72 hour makeathon was geared towards working with people with disabilities to understand their challenges and to build solutions to make their lives easier, more independant, and more productive. During that event 7 teams of over 60 makers built some great tools including an automatic shelf that moved up and down for the mobility limited, a series of devices to help people who wear an oxygen tube, and even some VR software designed to help the hearing impaired see the direction of sounds.

June04Currently, the TOM DC group is planning an even larger TOM event, to be held at the Smithsonian in Washington DC in February of 2018. We look forward to finalizing the venue and sponsors and opening up the recruitment process to gather more amazing and talented designers to continue the tradition of helping others and making the world a better place for everyone.

>>> provided by Bo Wernick


FIRST Global

Nova Labs is partnering with FIRST Global, a new endeavor of the FIRST organization. The inaugural FIRST Global tournament is coming to DAR Constitution Hall in July with teams from 161 countries participating. Nova Labs is coordinating with area FIRST teams to provide critical training materials for teams preparing for the tournament.

FIRST GlobalThe Education and Outreach of FIRST Global is gathering an international following and beginning to have a global impact. Several countries have built robots from published, open-source designs developed at Nova Labs. Teams Libya, Burundi, Philippines, and others, have designed innovative solutions that have expanded upon the original concepts developed at Nova Labs. 

FIRST GlobalDavid Levy, mentor with FIRST, shares…

“Reflecting back to the first weeks when Nova Labs pulled together the documentation that is now in play around the globe – I look at the accomplishments and I am amazed that we accomplished so much in such a short period. I have attached a photo from our very first meeting when we cracked open the first box, which was just 11 days ago! (Although it seem like a lot longer.) Thanks to Nova Labs FTC teams, FTC teams from Herndon High, South Lakes High, and Langston Hughes Middle, as well as the FRC team from Marshall High.”