Devra Sisitsky and Bryan Patton are on a mission to enhance the maker movement in Connecticut. They recently co-founded MakerspaceCT, which they plan to open in the spring of 2017.
MakerspaceCT defines a makerspace as a “community center with tools” adding that makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education to enable community members to design, prototype, and create manufactured works they wouldn’t be able to create on their own.
“We look forward to supporting this initiative,” said Glendowlyn Thames, Director, Small Business Innovation Group at Connecticut Innovations, speaking at the New England Maker Summit, an event co-sponsored by MakerspaceCT that took place November 17 at the University of Hartford.
Sisitsky and Patton plan for MakerspaceCT to be a community resource open to the public that will offer training on many types of equipment and tools for innovators to make or manufacture prototypes, hobbyist, or artistic projects.
Sisitsky told Summit attendees, “We’re witnessing the beginning of the maker movement in Connecticut.” With regard to the couple’s personal interest in the maker movement, she added that her husband is “the quintessential maker.”
MAKERSPACES FOSTER INNOVATION
Makerspaces play an important role in the community. They help to:
- Stimulate interest in innovation and invention
- Engage younger generations in new technologies and manufacturing, including science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM)
- Encourage hardware development and innovation
- Develop manufacturing clients by fostering growth of small technology businesses
- Steer people toward careers in advanced manufacturing and technology
- Provide retraining services in advanced manufacturing (CNC) and other skills
- Increase creative productivity in the workforce
FINDING A HOME IN HARTFORD FOR MAKERSPACECT
Sisitsky and Patton are locating MakerspaceCT at Hartford’s historic Colt Building. The two note that the building is a well-known driver of invention and innovation. Coltsville has community housing, a Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) school, a Historic Park status and museum, and resource sharing for its office spaces.
According to the couple, with the makerspace, the co-working space, the onsite living, and a variety of entrepreneurial programs, the Colt Building could once again become a center of invention and innovation excellence, forming a startup and technology cluster that will help revitalize Hartford.
BENEFICIAL TO THE COMMUNITY—AND THE ECONOMY IN HARTFORD
“One of the things I love about the makerspace concept is that one facility can serve many different segments of the population,” says Patton. “The more people, the more members, and the more of a community you can develop.”
MakerspaceCT plans to provide education and training as well as fostering and supporting community involvement and mentoring.
And, while MakerspaceCT has a community-oriented mission, “There is a business and entrepreneurial side to the makerspace. Interested businesses can create products, build value, and train people to manufacture products,” explains Patton.
“The makerspace has the potential to create new companies and create new jobs,” adds Patton. “It can really benefit Hartford’s economic development economy.”
In terms of education, Patton says MakerspaceCT will have an education outreach focus. “We want to promote STEAM values and engage kids to become interested in coding, CNC machining, and robotics.”
MakerspaceCT will offer safety classes for machines and equipment operation, plus a wide selection of interesting classes to engage the community. There are also plans to feature a fast-track advanced manufacturing program for veterans.
RESOURCES FOR STARTING A BUSINESS
MakerspaceCT will offer many opportunities for entrepreneurs to learn new skills and start a small business. The space will also partner with local organizations including the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center, reSET, and Innovate Hartford to provide business mentoring services to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs. MakerspaceCT plans to offer classes designed for startups and small businesses, such as managing a small business, how to create and launch a new company, funding options, and how to obtain a patent.
“What I love most about makerspaces is they provide a place for people to innovate, create art, and create value,” says Patton. “We’re excited to launch the new space.”
Learn more about MakerspaceCT at www.makerspacect.com.