Age of the inventor: Join the Maker Movement

A maker shop at 3424 S. Main St., Salt Lake City has a 3-D printer for members. (Photo by Tanoya Poulsen)

A maker shop at 3424 S. Main St., Salt Lake City has a 3-D printer for members. (Photo by Tanoya Poulsen)

Our world is getting more technologically advanced and not just for scientists and the military. While the advancement of technology can be exciting, it can also leave people feeling intimidated. A new movement of robotics is trying to show people that anyone can participate in this movement.

Michael Simpson, a physics student here at Weber State University, started in 2007 because he was “tired of mowing his lawn.” Simpson watched some videos on the internet, changed the design a bit to match his needs and built himself a remote control lawnmower robot.

Simpson then started a DIY robotics club for people who want to get involved but aren’t quite sure where to start and for those already started on projects to get help with their own design problems.

A desktop computer is set up to a CNC machine at a maker shop at 3424 S. Main St., Salt Lake City. (Photo by Tanoya Poulsen)

A desktop computer is set up to a CNC machine at a maker shop at 3424 S. Main St., Salt Lake City. (Photo by Tanoya Poulsen)

According to Simpson, it’s all about getting started. “Hey, the water’s fine. Jump in, don’t wait,” Simpson said. “This is the future.”

The Maker Movement is a term for independent inventors, designers, hackers and traditional artisans that come together as a DIY community and share ideas in order to help one another create.

In Salt Lake City, there is another club called MAKE Salt Lake. The club has a shop space that includes a laser cutting machine, wood shop, metal shop, vinyl cutter, soldering tools and a 3-D printer.

For $50 per month, members can come anytime, day or night, and work on their own projects. There are also classes available and an online forum where members can ask questions and seek advice from other members regarding their designs.

Henry Haskel, who is an organizer of the MAKE Salt Lake club, believes that this is a movement for everyone.

“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young or too old,” Haskel said. “A six-year-old can walk away with a birdhouse just as good as the 25-year-old next to them because it’s theirs.”

The Maker Movement isn’t exclusively for those experienced in technology and wood work. Artists are in big demand as well. It’s often an overlooked part of the building process, but before you can do anything, you need to design it on paper.

“If you can’t draw, then you have to use someone else’s design,” Haskel said.

The MAKE space is for anyone and everyone to come in and do anything and everything.

Ethan Peterson, a senior at the University of Utah, heard about the Maker Movement from his landlord and is currently switching his major to engineering.

“I want to push boundaries and start a company,” Peterson said.

Tim Doctor, a retired mechanical engineer, moved from Chicago to Alta, Utah, to be a ski bum but says he still “just wants to build stuff.”

“I’m really interested in the laser cutter and the vinyl cutter,” Doctor said.

According to Haskel, the goal is a fun, low-pressure space for people to come and create. For those who may not feel like they know what they’re doing, Haskel says that the space is full of people willing to help.

“You don’t know what you can do until you do it,” Haskel said.

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