GAITHERSBURG —Serge and Viat are father and son team running a small hobby store called Hobby Place in Gaithersburg, MD. Half of the store is a workshop full of vehicle and aircraft models in different stages of completion, a terrain race course mounted on a trailer, and small machine tools on workbenches. Clearly it’s not just a business for them.
I know them from my kids’ Saturday Russian school where they teach engineering and competition math classes. Naturally, I mentioned Nova Labs during one of our conversations, and made a few laser-cut parts (all hail Mongo!) for model cars they were building with the kids. Later, I gave them a tour of Nova Labs and explained what we are and how we operate.
There was an immediate understanding and interest:
“- Wow, a laser cutter!”
“- Hmm, we could have used that CNC router…”
“- Do you plan another class for vacuum forming?”
“- Maybe we should join as members…”
However, it quickly became clear that between day jobs, running the hobby store and teaching, combined with lengthy commute between their place and Nova Labs, membership wouldn’t be very practical for them. Makerspaces are pretty local entities, as we learned.
“- Is there something like Nova Labs near us?”
Unfortunately, no. Not yet, anyway.
“- Then let’s make one!”
The two decided to explore creating a makerspace in Gaithersburg. They have the shop space as the base, skills to share and interest in making. Now they face a classic bootstrap problem: to grow community and membership, you need events and activities, but to organize these, you better know what your members are interested in.
Many questions were asked about what worked for Nova Labs and why. Nova Labs is very open and enthusiastic about sharing what we learned, and one of these things is that kids’ events are always popular, have universal appeal, and make waves. Take-Apart Day probably takes the crown in that area. So they decided to try and run a similar event or two locally to gauge the response. If you are in Gaithersburg area and interested in helping to establish a local makerspace, give these folks some of your attention. The first Take-Apart event is planned on April 19th.