People go to Makerspaces to learn new skills, but they have no meaningful way of proving they've acquired those skills, and thus no clear path to making any money with those new skills, short of starting their own business. And while entrepreneurial spirit is great, it's not actually the solution to everything.
Makerspaces are typically managed by volunteers with very limited budgets. They use spreadsheets and shared calendars to manage membership, comms, bookings and payments - which are ill-suited to the job.
Members of Makerspaces have no easy way to connect with other Makers outside their own space nor to discover and access people, resources, skills and machines in other locations to help them with their projects.
Companies & NGOs are actively trying to connect with the Maker community for learning, open innovation, recruitment and redistributed manufacturing. They lack an easy way to do this both locally and globally.
By providing a suite of free tools for Makerspaces to manage memberships, machines, and money, MakerNet solves a real problem for Makerspace managers & improves the experience of their members. Our tools connect spaces into the MakerNet community, making their members and inventory discoverable.
As people take classes and use machines, all those learning experiences aggregate to their personal profile, which builds up a meaningful and portable picture of what skills they have. This in turn becomes something that can be connected to job searches and workforce retraining efforts.
As we connect spaces into our network, the MakerNet database becomes the global inventory of the skills & training of the world’s Makers and of the capacities and equipment of the world’s Makerspaces.
Maker Passports - We all know that many of the tools we use as makers are often expensive and dangerous if used improperly, so it makes sense that every Makerspace requires safety classes or some level of professional certification to start using them. However, right now there's no way to take those permissions with you if you change spaces, even just for a day.
As you use MakerNet to schedule the tools you use and track your active projects, it builds a profile for you with all the hours you've logged on each machine, the classes you've taken, professional certs, and so on. With this, your profile can become a true Maker Passport, a verifiable record of your experience and skill within the global Maker community.
Apprenticeship Pathways - Studies by groups such as Deloitte and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have predicted a shortfall of between 2 and 3 Million skilled jobs across the US alone by 2020. These are jobs for welders, industrial maintenance technicians, electricians, woodworkers, designers, fabricators, and so on. All of these skills can be learned at Makerspaces, and in many cases already are, but not in a way that is generally recognized by larger companies or government organizations. We are working with the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards, the Advanced Manufacturing & Transportation Apprenticeships of California, and the California Community College Maker Initiative to set up a recognized apprenticeship program that any makerspace can take part in, receive government funding for, and thereby become a pipeline for Makers to get into jobs with the skills they've learned.
Redistributed Manufacturing - One of the key challenges faced by Makers and Makerspaces right now is financial viability. There is no clear, well defined pathway from entering a Makerspace for the first time through to paying work with the skills you develop while you're there. And because of this, there's little money to pay Makerspaces their membership dues.
What if fabrication and tradecraft jobs could be intelligently routed to makers the way that ride requests are routed to Lyft drivers? What if you could see what kinds of Maker skills are in demand, and where to get training in those skills, which would then become a part of your Maker Passport?
Our vision for MakerNet is to connect people to the tools and training to become Makers, and to connect Makers with the people who need their skills. We see this as the most viable path forward for all of us in the Maker community.
Who is part of MakerNet?
While the digital platform has been in development, we've been hard at work building our analog network around the world. We know that this is a well understood problem in the Maker world, and there are a lot of folks working in similar or adjacent domains. Here's some of the amazing folks we're working with to bring MakerNet to life.
Google: Making & Science - We're thrilled to announce our new partnership with Google's division for Making and Science.
Nation of Makers - A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping makers by supporting maker organizations; through advocacy, the sharing of resources and the building of community within the maker movement and beyond.
Global Innovation Gathering - Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) is a vibrant, diverse community of innovation hubs, makerspaces, hackerspaces and other grassroots innovation community spaces and initiatives as well as individual innovators, makers, technologists and changemakers. GIG is pursuing a new vision for global cooperation based on equality, openness and sharing. We aim to enable more diversity in the production of technology, and global innovation processes and support open and sustainable solutions developed by grassroot innovators.
Field Ready - We meet humanitarian need by transforming logistics through technology, design and engaging people in new ways. We make useful items to solve problems locally in various sectors such as health, water and sanitation. We do this by using the latest technology including 3D printers and laser cutters as well as traditional manufacturing machines. We pass on these skills to others through training and pioneering innovative approaches to the toughest challenges. The impact of this is dramatically improved efficiency in aid delivery by quickly meeting needs and cutting procurement costs.
Gearbox - Gearbox is an initiative that aims at improving the ecosystem for hardware entrepreneurship by providing flexible working space, shared prototyping facilities, training in manufacturing, fabrication and design as well as mentorship, investment opportunities, incubation and community development.
Ace Monster Toys - Ace Monster Toys (“AMT”) Makerspace is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit member supported organization founded in 2011. We support traditional makers and craftspeople as well as hackers both digital and material. Our community brings together people of diverse skill levels by providing resources and culture to build networks; co-work; and engage in projects that benefit individuals and the community at large. The resources we develop include spaces and a wide variety of tools and supplies to support making and learning.
Ananse Group - We’re an international consulting team devoted to open-source values and developing sustainable, grassroots infrastructure. We are compiling the most complete and up to date map of makerspaces, fab labs, innovation hubs and micro-factories in the world!
The Far Away Project - We go great distances to recognize and support organizations and individuals making a difference. Bring innovators and grassroots initiatives to the global stage and allow aligned communities to connect despite geographical distances. Empowering everyone who is going great distances, in their own way, to pursue and succeed with their projects.
Make Nashville - We are a collective of creative, geeky, artistic, innovative, fun and welcoming people who love to make things and have a great time doing it. Make Nashville is a member-led organization that was founded in 2012 and became a registered federal 501c3 nonprofit in 2015. Our Mission is to provide the community, training, tools, and opportunity for everyone to experience the transformative experience of making. We want to help more people make, and to help makers make more.
College of Alameda FabLab - One of our first early adopters, the FabLab at College of Alameda teaches design and fabrication, prototyping and electronics.