In South Bronx: "Free Technical School in basement"

John Young says:
200606301104 My company in NYC was doing a community service day in the South Bronx. On the way there, I got waylaid on the street by a short older man who said in a thick Jackie Mason accent: "Young man! Do you want to learn electrical engineering?"

I was so intrigued that I followed him a few blocks away, past a whole bunch of disquieting, Wile E. Coyote-style "Free Technical School in basement: GO RIGHT IN! RIGHT THIS WAY!" signs, and found, basically, an underground maker's lair consisting of a big unimproved basement filled with chairs, boilers, and homemade electrical diagnostic devices. Plus LCD monitors mounted on the wall, CAT6 cable, and dry-erase boards filled with math. All the ingredients of a supervillain's lair. Except used in the service of creating more geeks.

I was terrified the whole time (South Bronx! Three stories underground! Genial elderly man who's spouting theories about biodiesel to passers-by!), but it turns out that he's teaching a highly employable skill, for free, to anyone with a clean police record in a depressed neighborhood.

There are some pictures here, if you want to see the "Free elec. school in basement go right in" signs for yourself.