Shop classes that once provided hands-on experience are gradually being eliminated from schools across the US. As these classes were the places where many students first discovered their passion for making things, Vocademy saw the perfect opportunity to open up a makerspace that would bring back the “shop class atmosphere.”
“Vocademy is a 15,000 sq ft makerspace,” states Gene Sherman, Founder and CEO of Vocademy. “[Here] people can learn as little or as much as they want about a variety of tools. We sell classes by the hour, and once people complete a certain amount of class time, they can start using machines by themselves.”
Rather than just offering print services or a “minimal training, access only makerspace”, Vocademy transform novices into makers.
“We aren’t a trade school. We don’t charge $20,000 to teach you about one thing and give you a piece of paper. We teach people how to design, how to create, and we give you the tools of creativity,” said Sherman when Afinia caught up with him about what they are doing.
3D Printing, in particular, is a popular area of interest for students at Vocademy. The organisation has six 3D printers installed, supplied by Afinia. By being able to design and print prototypes at will, 3D Printing has been a great match for those who are interested in cosplay, particularly costumes and props.
“Every class is “make-and-take.” It is amazingly empowering to have someone who hasn’t touched a tool, and then a few hours later, they have something THEY created, which they can take with them. We work towards teaching people to design, because once you design your own creations, that’s when you truly become a maker. Pressing a button to print something created by somebody else is not ‘making.’ It is basically like printing pictures of other people’s kids,” states Sherman.
Vocademy is a great model for future makerspaces and will be hosting a MakerFaire this week, on Saturday, October 4th at 1635 Spruce Street, near the corner of Chicago Avenue, in Riverside, CA.