Empower2Make Launch Party, Nova Labs is Hiring, Capitol Hill Maker Faire Demo


Carl Hutzler demonstrates a clock made by Paul Chase to Congressman Mark Takano at the Capitol Hill Maker Faire that took place on June 12 in Washington D.C.


Nova Labs hit the road in June with maker demonstrations at the Capitol Hill Maker Faire. Further afield, team leads Jeanne Marshall and Jennyfer Peterson represented Nova Labs at the first annual Nation of Makers Conference. Jeanne and Jennyfer will share stories from NomCon at the upcoming member meeting.

Tae Edell is winding up her work at the front desk kiosk to pursue new opportunities with the Smithsonian. Since she starting working here last year, Tae has been a fantastic brand ambassador for Nova Labs. Tae consistently provided a warm welcome, always ready to lend a hand and answer questions. Behind the scenes, Tae kept things running with grace and creative solutions. Tae’s last day is Friday, July 6. After that, you may still find Tae here, from time to time, working on her own maker projects, contributing pro bono on Empower2Make, and, training her replacement – currently Nova Labs is recruiting. Be sure to stop by this week to congratulate Tae on her new venture and to thank her for her many contributions.

The Empower2Make launch party is coming July 11! The woodshop is humming with summer projects, a class lineup with a mix of old favorites and new offerings, and a new wood lathe. For the youth, there are a variety of summer workshops offered.

Happy Making!

Marybeth Haneline
Board President

RSVP to Upcoming Member & Associate Meeting


This month, the board approved one new key member and reviewed MakerFaire Nova finances. The 2018 MakerFair Nova was a great success in and of itself, but it also brought in over $13k in net revenue! The board also approved a budget for a new commercial water heater for the makerspace to replace the broken unit. Furthermore, the board approved a measure to allow Physical Security Interest Group classes. This allows lock-related classes to be taught at Nova Labs by a licensed locksmith under the auspices of TOOOL US guidelines.

In addition, the board spoke with both Jennyfer Peterson and Jeanne Marshall about their trip to NOMCon (Nation of Makers Convention) to gain insights into the state of the American maker community, best practices, and creative solutions to common problems.

>Provided by Jim Girardi

NOVA LABS IS HIRING |  Makerspace Administrative Assistant

Nova Labs is looking for a customer service superstar who makes everyone feel welcome, assists with communications and membership tasks, and helps classes run smoothly at the makerspace. This is part time position of 20-30 hours per week; includes some weekday evenings and weekends.

Learn more: Makerspace Administrative Assistant
Contact us: jobs@nova-labs.org


July 11, 7 – 9pm
RSVP: https://www.meetup.com/NOVA-Makers/events/251491255/

We’re opening Orange Bay to host the launch party for the upcoming Empower2make event. The 72 hour make-a-thon to develop assistive technology takes place Sep 14-16. All are welcome celebrate the kick-off of this Nova Labs banner event and share a meal with our close maker community. Meet participants, explore examples of developed products in action, and find out how to get involved. Prospective makers, knowers, partner sponsors, and their families are welcome to attend to see if the event sparks your interest.

Please RVSP on meetup.
For more information on Empower2make check out our website Empower2make.org or email info@empower2make.org.

> Provided by Bo Pollet Wernick


NOVA Labs and Maker Faire NoVa attended the Capitol Hill Maker Faire on June 12 in the Rayburn House Office Building. We exhibited many maker-inspired items from the NOVA Labs community and helped spread awareness of the 6th Annual Maker Faire NoVa coming up in June 2019. We were excited to have the Chairman of the House Maker Caucus, Mr. Mark Takano (D-California), stop by for a tutorial on the 3D printed clock created by Paul Chase. Mr. Takano, as well as Capitol Hill legislators and guests, signed the clock, which will be exhibited at NOVA Labs.

>Provided by Asma Chaudhary & Carl Hutzler


Nova Labs partnered with Eric Duer at STEMSKILLS to host the first week of the Summer Maker Skills Camp for High School Students with Learning Challenges. The focus of this week was on job exploration and technology skills with the goal to build confidence through developing workplace skills. Emphasis was placed on specific skills that the kids could continue to explore on their home computers. Pulling from the knowledgeable Nova Labs maker community and using our facilities, the students were introduced to Arduino and programming, laser cutting, woodworking tools and glue ups, drones, t-shirt making using the silhouette/heat press, and soldering. The six kids had various learning differences, but our maker volunteers rose to the challenge!

Special thanks to Jennyfer Peterson, Bryce Peterson, Curt Welch, Nick Carter, Bob Coggeshall, Susan Parsons, and our wonderful summer interns, Annie Morgan and Ella Parsons.

>Provided by Jennyfer Peterson


This month, the FIRST Robotics Team 1123 brought their unique mobile workshop created from a former Greyhound bus to visit. In it there are tools, workbenches, etc. to aid in their robotic efforts. They brought their bus to the Nova Labs Robotic Interest Group free monthly meetup. Meetup members got a tour of this amazing bus and asked questions. This was clearly one of the “biggest” show-and-tell projects ever seen in Nova Labs history!

>Provided by Steve Geyer 



The Nova Labs Woodturning Program provides members with formal training in wood lathe safety, spindle turning, and bowl turning techniques. In addition to formal training, members have access to experienced turners who perform demonstrations of advanced techniques and provide mentoring when members are working on their individual woodturning projects. Finally, the program offers project-oriented classes where members can turn things to help them get started…like a pen, an ornament, a tool handle, or a rolling pin.

Members have access to lathe tools and accessories, sharpening equipment, and three different lathes – a mini-lathe suitable for turning pens and small bowls and two full-sized lathes capable of turning anything from a very small toothpick up to a 16″ bowl, a 44″ baseball bat, or a small lawn totem.

The most recent addition to the lathe fleet is a Nova Galaxi DVR lathe. This lathe is manufactured in New Zealand (home of some really amazing woodturners!) and has numerous features that make it well-suited to Nova Labs – the similarity in names is just a happy coincidence! The Galaxi weighs in at 436 lbs. providing a rock-solid turning platform for larger and more complex projects. The direct-drive motor uses 2 HP of tiger-blood infused power and a computer-controlled motor management system to provide an exceptional user experience. A turner can vary the speed continuously from 100-5000 rpm at the turn of a knob without switching pulleys and belts. The motor speed-control also helps the lathe maintain the selected speed regardless of load and can even detect a “catch” and  shut off power instantly if one occurs.

In order to use the Galaxi, previously certified members will be asked to participate in a short familiarization session, which can be provided an ad-hoc basis for free by Frank, Rick, Mike, or Zack. New Lathe 101 classes will include this information. The Galaxi will be placed in service during the week of 6/18/2018. Notification of readiness to use will be provided on the Nova public web site as well as the Nova Labs slack woodworking channel.

>Provided by Rick Weil and Frank Sogandares 



What are you making this summer? We are making cutting boards & slab tables at Nova Labs.  Nova Labs is offering two premier woodworking classes at the premier makerspace in the DMV area. If you have ever wanted to learn woodworking from tree-to-furniture, this is the time to do it!

WW: Live-Edge Slab Tables
Farm to table? We are gonna do tree-to-table! Learn to turn a massive slab of wood into a functional piece of furniture! In this class we will learn all about SLABS! Featuring a field trip to a local supplier, Local Wood of Leesburg/Berryville VA, students will learn all about how slabs are milled, dried and made ready for market. Students will purchase slabs, then flatten and prep their slab for finishing. Students can design and build wood bases during class time, or purchase pre-made legs. Consider this a build-a-long: you get access to the tools, expertise and guidance of an experienced woodworking instructor. Make butterfly keys, discuss epoxy pours, discuss (and if it’s a nice day, actually spray) spray and oil-based finishes. This is the PREMIER WOODWORKING CLASS of Summer 2018.

Be the hipster you know you can be!
Sign up at Meet Up to attend this great class! Plus, you can attend the Day 1 Session for only $10!

July 26, 6pm @ Leesburg Local Wood VA
July 27, 7pm to 10pm
July 28, 9am to 4pm

That’s over TEN HOURS of small group instruction.  LET’S DO THIS!

WW: Cutting Boards
Two-Day class: Seven shop hours. Friday July 13, 7pm – 10pm & Sun July 15, 10am – 2pm

Have you ever wanted to learn woodworking, but didn’t know where to start? In this course, build a beautiful wood cutting board while learning the ins-and-outs of the major woodworking machines in the woodshop.  We learn the basics about makerspaces, hardwood vs. softwood, shop safety, milling dimensioning and more. This is a popular class, offered quarterly…in fact, it might already be full!

Learn to use the SawStop Table Saw, Jointer, Planer, Miter Saw, Band Saw, Disk/Belt Sander, Oscillating Sander, Drill Press, Small Band Saw, Scroll Saw – every tool except the lathe and the kitchen sink!

>Provided by Patrick Waters, Woodshop Cowboy


Nova Labs Robotics

These workshops are put on by Nova Labs Robotics teen mentors and coaches. The lead mentor is Elena, captain of Marshall High School FRC Team 5549 – in her fourth year of volunteering with Nova Labs Robotics. Ian Willebeek-Lemair is also assisting with the camp.  He is a rising sophomore at Virginia Tech, majoring in Aerospace Engineering.Nova Labs Robotics: Robot Makers
Rising Grades 5-9
July 30 – Aug 3, 9am – 4pm

Build and code a robot to solve increasingly complex challenges. Kids will get to bring their strategies to life with servos, sensors and LEGO EV3 Mindstorms.
Register: https://www.meetup.com/NOVA-Makers/events/247205408/ 

TEQ Strategy Teen Summer Drone Workshop
Session 1: July 9 – 13, 10am – 3pm
Session 2: Jul 16 – 20, 10am – 3pm

Students will learn how to build their own drone from scratch, which they will keep at the end of the session. Taught by a Drone Prototype Product Developer and university professor, this intensive workshop designed for students who want a deeper understanding of how to assemble, program, and operate drones.

For more information & registration, contact:

STEMSKILLS: Summer Tech Camps & Pre-Employment Skills for Students with Disabilities
Ages 15-20
Sessions: Jul 2-6 (except Jul 4), Jul 9-12

STEMSKILLS offers camps for young people with autism, ADHD and LD. It will give students interested in STEM fields a change to learn necessary skills to thrive in the workforce.For more information & registration, contact:

STEM Summer Camps from Mindframe Education
Rising Grades 3-6 & 6-12
Weekly Sessions from Jul 9 to Aug 17

Mindframe summer camps include hands-on, project-based activities with real world tools with topics ranging from robotics programming and app creation to website development and digital filmmaking.For more information & registration, contact:


Sundays, 1 – 4pm
Tiny Woodshop Series
Have a passion for woodworking, but very little space? This series will cover building shop furniture, using and maintaining hand tools, and working in a small space. With these skills and some inexpensive tools, you can build a tiny woodshop of your very own.


Nova Labs is seeking volunteer help for the following:

  • Open House tour helpers, 2nd Saturday fo each month
  • Helpers Nova Labs activity tables, STEAM Day, National Air and Space Museum at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Volunteers get free parking, free day access to museum
  • Fall interns at college and high school level
  • Wiki Information Maintainers

Contact volunteering@nova-labs.org if you’re interested!


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 (https://www.ripe.net/, the European network registry) network probe, available at https://atlas.ripe.net/probes/31250/. 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.”


Mindframe Education partners with Nova Labs to offer STEM classes this summer


Mindframe education has partnered with Nova Labs to offer STEM-focused summer camps at Nova Labs. These summer camps combine fun and learning into one unforgettable experience that teaches students how to think and work like real engineers, scientists, creative designers, and developers. Students get to work on cool projects, engage in fun, hands-on activities, and develop real-world products and digital creations.


Some of the highlights of theses classes which run the gamut from programming, mobile app development, robotics, web design, 3D printing and even science are:

• Each camp includes instruction on the concepts and technologies, and fun, hands-on projects & activities
• All camps include a variety of fun break activities, indoors and outdoors, including games, challenges, and social time
• Students have access to real-world tools and the latest technologies
• Through individual and group activities, students will take part in hands-on projects that give them the opportunity to see their learning in action
• Students will grouped by age and/or skill level in each camp to allow students to learn and apply their new skills at a pace that’s suitable for them
• Students will be taught by tech-savvy, experienced designers, developers and engineers with expertise in their fields and a passion for teaching
• As the camp comes to an end, students will present their new creations and show off their skills to family and friends



The summer camps are one week in length, will run from June 22nd through August 28th and are targeted at rising grades 2-12. A complete schedule, and all of the details can be and a brochure with the camp schedule can be found at the Mindframe Education website at:    http://mindframeeducation.com/summer-camps/

Nova Labs Represents Makerspaces at The U.S. Science and Engineering Festival


WASHINGTON — This past weekend, Nova Labs joined Unallocated Space and HacDC in helping to represent area makerspaces. Among the exhibits were robots from Nova Labs FIRST Robotics teams, led by Tom Welsh, a 3D printer of the same design used by our current 3D printer build group, as well as drones!

Member Bob Coggeshall was on hand to represent Nova Labs’ incubator program and to spread the word about how Small Batch Assembly is lowering the cost for hardware innovators.


Nova Labs’ booth was graciously provided by Gary Mauler, organizer of RobotFestan annual event for anyone interested in the creative use of technology.


Robot Tomato Sale Seeks to Raise $5,000 for Nova Labs Robotics


Editors Note: This is a guest blog post by Beth Riddick, who grows and sells Heirloom Tomato seedlings at her home at 792 Grant St, Herndon, VA to raise money for Nova Labs FIRST Robotics teams. This year’s sale was held Saturday April 26th.

I saw first hand how Robotics benefited both my kids, even though they are very different from each other. After my son, Ian, took part in Tom Welsh’s LEGO Robotics team, he started to say how he really loved math and wanted to program robots for a living. My daughter, Leah, joined the Herndon High—NASA Headquarters Team 116, and helped establish an Animation Award hosted by Team 116. She brought her writing skills and creativity to the team.


FIRST Robotics gives young inventors a way to pursue their passion, the same way that sports programs give athletes a chance to  perform at their best. FIRST also teaches kids to work with people of different talents to create something new and exciting.

disphprepareJust as we give every kid a chance to try sports, we need to make Robotics available to every child. The best way to do this is to incorporate it into our schools, as we do with sports, art, drama, and music. Until that happens, groups like Nova Labs Robotics gives kids that opportunity.

backdeckseedlingsAnd since I can’t coach, I fundraise!

Rather than sell the tomatoes themselves, we sell the seedlings for gardeners to grow their own plants. The varieties we offer are rarely found in nurseries: dwarf tomatoes that can be grown in pots but produce full-sized, delicious fruit; blue tomatoes that produce anthocyanins in their skin.


All of them are heirlooms, so as long as you make sure they are not cross-pollinated by a different type, you can save the seeds and grow the same type next year. Of course, you’re always welcome to come back and buy new seedlings from us.

1ananas ananasnoirslice dinner Harvest2013

Each year, we offer varieties we have grown in our garden ourselves as well as some that are new to us. We mark the ones we have grown before with an asterisk, and only bring back varieties that we really love.

This pic was taken about a week ago.


Cherokee Purple is an old favorite dating back to the 1800’s. Indigo Apple is a new variety that we hope to test this year.

Along with tomato seedlings, we have seedlings for sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, and basil, over 50 varieties in total.  We suggest a $3 donation for a well-formed seedling in a 3-inch pot.

With gratitude, I invite all of you back to my front porch. Have a cup of coffee with us, chat about tomatoes, choose something special for your garden.

Beth Riddick
Robot Tomatoes

Herndon Robotics Partners with Nova Labs for FIRST Lego League


This gallery contains 7 photos.

RESTON, VA — Sundays at Nova Labs are now a flurry of activity thanks to the kids and parents of Herndon Robotics, a local robotics group for kids who are preparing for this season’s FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition, which … Continue reading