Maker Station in Library Parking Lot = All Kinds of Awesome

A collaboration between the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a local nonprofit called TekVenture has created a hub of awesome for local makers called the TekVenture Maker Station.

Although it looks plainer than even the most generic bookmobile (or school mobile classroom), this 50-foot trailer is packed with the kinds of tools that makers can’t wait to get their hands on: a CNC Milling Machine, Metal Lathe, a Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer, an Egg-Bot, a CNC Router, tools for welding, an injection molder, and laptops to program everything a maker could imagine.

In addition to having the TekVenture Maker Station in the Library’s parking lot, library patrons, makers, and hackers can attend over 50 hands-on workshops this summer to learn how to use many of the tools to turn their ideas into material creations.  Events include Arduino controllers, circuit and electronics basics, using SketchUp, 3D Printing for Beginners, Frame-working Glass, and more.  Many of the workshops are free to ACPL patrons.

Closely related to the TekVenture Maker Station’s purpose and mission is the new Studio D., a digital media lab that just opened in the Young Adults’ Services department inside the Main Library building, where teens can create music, video and other media with guidance from other media makers.

Not only have teens and local makers been using the TekVenture Maker Station, but small business owners have used it to get ideas off the ground and into production.  Natril Gear, a Fort Wayne company that sells bicycle panniers called “Luggers”, met a maker there who explained to them the basics of rapid prototyping, enabling them to prepare their next product.  The owners, Nathan and April Reinhard, are ardent supporters of the TekVenture Maker Station, the library, and their common vision.

TekVenture and the Maker Station are experiencing a rapid buildup of popularity at the moment.  Makers will be showcasing a wet swing set at RiverFest, Fort Wayne’s annual celebration of its three rivers; they recently appeared at the Indiana Democratic Convention which was held in Fort Wayne for the first time ever; and they announced the 2012 Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire, which will be held October 6-7, 2012.

— Melissa Renner, Training Specialist, Allen County Public Library