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OT (kind of) Makerspace education and instructor demand

PeteM

Diamond
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Location
West Coast, USA
Haven't looked in a bit, but it used to be that schools like MIT and Stanford had extensive on-line tutoritals, so students didn't tear up tools or hurt themselves. Add to that a zillion YouTubers. I'd think you could put 70% of a curriculum together from publicly available links and fill in the remaining 30% or so required for your mix of equipment by suggestion #18 above.

I'd be inclined to give your own instructors some sort of recognition (they might start their own YouTube channels or have one for the whole facility). This could be an honorarium, chance to win one of three or so prizes based on "best course" evaluations of members, free membership for some time, or ???.

You'll still need to test students knowledge, and you might charge $8-$18 for so for each test. That could pay for some of the course production.

Just like for aircraft crews, I suggest you make up some checklists before anyone takes off on a machine. Maybe one to enter the place (safety goggles, no gloves on rotating equipmehnt, etc.) and for each machine to better avoid the most common screw ups.

One thing we instituted at a company I worked at a zillion years ago was a series of short how-to courses - one of which had to be produced by each new incoming employees In your case this wouuld be new members. It could be on any topic - how to tram a vise for example. They'll want to do a good job, first impressions and all. They'll certainly learn the task.

We then gave these courses (ours were in storyboard format with one picture and one idea or step per frame) to the next new kid and asked them find the "course" that confused them the most and improve it. PowerPoint didn't exist back then, but it would be an appropriate format for this. Click ahead at your own pace, one step at a time. After a year or two, we got a pretty good library of introductory teaching materials on how to use things like Tektronix storage tube displays or get access to a mainframe structures package.

On edit: seems others have had the similar ideas in posts #19 & #20.
 

JWaldo

Aluminum
Joined
May 4, 2011
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
So a toolmaker walks in wanting to use tools in the metalshop...does he get carte blanch or does he need training? Always wondered how it would work with someone who knows what they are doing.

I see a lot of places have haas machines but can only be used by staff members...I've been programming them for over a decade, do I still need to have some guy run a machine I'm intimate with? How do I know this guy knows what he's doing?

I wish there was a maker space near me...lol

For folks who already have skills, we just do a quick sign-off. Demonstrate you know your way around the machine and you are good to go. (I wish we had more folks with experience and skills. Most of our repairs come from newbies crashing stuff. (In my early days I crashed stuff too - part of the learning curve.))
 

JWaldo

Aluminum
Joined
May 4, 2011
Location
Northern Virginia, USA
If there isn't a hands on portion of the "Red Tool" classes, couldn't you video the instructor doing one of their presentations and use this as instruction of future students

Red Tool does include hands on. Everyone gets a go. We also make fairly extensive use of video (a 'watch this before the class') as a 'this is what we are going to go over' and 'watch this if you need a refresher'.
 

jaguar36

Cast Iron
Joined
May 13, 2015
Location
SE, PA
What sort of perks or incentives do you give the volunteers? Lots of ways to motivate people that aren't monetary.

Give them free membership. Priority access to machine time. Free snacks in a 'teacher lounge'. Give them fancy titles based on the number of classes they teach. A nice badge, or a plaque with the names of the top teachers.

Most people just want to feel appreciated.
 

Lewie

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Location
Albuquerque NM
Generally I agree, but in this case it might not work out. I enjoy volunteering my time teaching mechanics at the (small scale, local) co-op. I'm happy to do this for free. As soon as it's not free, it's a job, not volunteering. If they want to pay me they'll need to compete with my day job. They can't afford to pay me an engineering consulting rate, and I don't need minimum wage job to add to my to-do list.
I did this for 20 years, after I retired, at a local High School as a "Volunteer" for the fun of helping hundreds of kids learn the lathe and mill and other shop tools (I don't do any welding) but along came Covid and that stopped. The Maker Space thing seems to be run by too many lawyers or politicians to work for me. :-)
...lew...
 

Joe Henderson

Aluminum
Joined
May 21, 2006
Location
Blooming Grove, Texas
Hope it works out. Years ago I had a good friend and mentor that was a retired Pattern Maker. He could do almost anything, run any machine with competence. The Ft Worth ISD asked him to teach machine shop for them. He inquired about the pay and they basically said minimum wage. He asked how much the shop teachers made and they said they couldn't pay him that much because he didn't have a degree. He told them hell if fifty years doing this stuff isn't enough for a degree then teach it yourself.
Jack is gone now and I miss him. There is no telling how much talent and expertise are carried to the grave each passing year without any chance of being shared. most young people now days get their knowledge from youtube videos which mostly are "guess what I did".
 

reggie_obe

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2004
Location
Reddington, N.J., U.S.A.
Business Model was not designed to 'make money' (At which we have been wildly successful - LOL) More about having a place to work with tools not normally affordable by an individual, and a community to pass-on skills.

And, I'm open to the possibility that the Model is wrong. You may indeed be correct and we need to change our approach. We want to spread mechanical skills as widely as possible - which may not be reasonable to continue to do for free.

Maybe you are trying to teach too much. What do your members need? All of them can't possibly be accounts in their day job.
An intro to shop and machine safety and the basics of operations should be enough to get the member on the road to learning and safe discovery of the machines use.
 

reggie_obe

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2004
Location
Reddington, N.J., U.S.A.
What sort of perks or incentives do you give the volunteers? Lots of ways to motivate people that aren't monetary.

Give them free membership. Priority access to machine time. Free snacks in a 'teacher lounge'. Give them fancy titles based on the number of classes they teach. A nice badge, or a plaque with the names of the top teachers.

Most people just want to feel appreciated.

For that to be an incentive, the shop would have to have better capabilities than the instructor already has at work or in his own shop.
 

rabler

Cast Iron
Joined
May 25, 2020
Location
Rural S.W. Indiana
This is a problem any volunteer organization faces. My suggestions:

1) Let the instructors work out a schedule they are comfortable with. Don't push them. Incentivize the students to treat the instructors to dinner or such. Make absolutely sure that the students know that the instructors are unpaid volunteers. Nothing worse than having students with an attitude that they are "entitled" to an instructor's time.

2) Let the instructor's schedule self-cull the new students/members to what is available. If you can't meet the instructor's schedule, tough. Wait for the next one.

3) Ask the instructors (old farts) to identify potential members that might be able to teach some basic classes. Old farts may have the best all around skills, but someone that has been at it for a year or so, i.e., a rank amatuer, can still have the right aptitude (safety minded and not over-ego) to do some intro courses. This may mean breaking your course work up into more short sessions.

Basically this comes down to putting the burden on the newcomers, and treating the volunteer old-farts with respect and recognition. It may piss off some newcomers, but those are the ones more likely to be problematic anyway.
 

garyhlucas

Stainless
Joined
Oct 17, 2013
Location
New Jersey
I know someday I will have to give up my home, because of age, cost, or more likely my wife divorcing me. What I would miss most is a little shop space with my CNC machine and a few power tools like Portaband on a table with drill press, belt sander, bench grinder. So a MakerSpace near by would be nice. However they all seem to suffer from the business model.

I had an idea about this for a local auto dealer building that is empty. Combine a shop space with storage for contractors and such. Line the building with shipping containers. Stack them two high and add a mezzanine floor for access to the top ones. The steel boxes would keep your valuables safe and help protect everyone from a fire.

Everyone rents a storage box and or pays for use of tools in the MakerSpace. A manager would be needed and could run a coffee shop & snack bar along with a hardware store that everyone would find useful.

One of the attractions and arguments in favor of my pay rate at my new job is that I am also mentoring the smart young employees with little experience. Its working pretty well. I am designing and programming machinery at the same time. I stepped in the door and hit the ground running and my boss has been very pleased with how quickly I get things done.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
back in the 80s when empty buildings were plentiful,we had the idea of a sort of wood work shop for people to rent a space by the hour to finish (say) home reno s or maybe make furniture......Metal work was considered ,but ruled out as dangerous and costly in machines and tools ....anyhoo,within six months there were dozens of these shops around,and we folded ours as being unprofitable....I havent looked ,so I dont know if the idea still survives.......One point was ,in the 80s,the city council was deadly on doing any work from home.....whereas now,backyard sheds are OK and council issue permits for one man businesses from home.(Residential zoning)
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Ive been invited into some of the volunteer organizer/instructor/worker type things,and the first question I ask is are my expenses reimbursed...fuel,car ,etc....the answer is inevitably "no"......which more or less disqualifies me from asking any more questions.....which I would have ......Most recent would be some beardos want to use my yard (2 1/2acres) as a "Urban farm"....this scheme has the backing of the city council.....then why cant the council supply them with some land?....Will the council rebate my property rates for the farm?...Nope .
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
We have a Makerspace. A nice big facility full of lots of machine and hand tools. (Lathes, mills, saws, surface grinders, routers, CNC stuff, 3D printers, drill presses, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, sewing machines, - the list goes on. Basically we have a lot of stuff (and keeping it all working is another topic all together) anyway....).

When you join, we have an overview orientation, and then we have a series of Red Tool classes (basically safety briefings - how to not hurt yourself or the machine) in the various shops (metal, wood, welding, etc.). These classes are taught by us old farts who have been around for a long time and are generally happy to share our knowledge and experience. We volunteer to teach (ie. we do it for free).

However, our membership is growing, and the demand for classes is really growing.

Where we are running up against a problem is that this growing demand for classes is overtaxing our volunteer educators. It's one thing to show up occasionally on your own time and your own schedule to teach. It is a whole other thing to 'have' to show up on a volunteer basis multiple times a month to meet the demand.

So, the instructors are burning out (not volunteering enough - understandable) and the members are clamoring for more classes. (Yeah, one of our pitches to join was that we would teach you how to use this stuff.)

And, the membership is not big enough to be able to hire and pay instructors (and, most of us old farts aren't in it for the money anyway - it's more of a passing on the skills thing - if I wanted a daily 9 to 5, I'd just go back to work.)

I can't imagine that other operations haven't run up against a similar problem.

How did you deal with it ?

Thanks,
Jim.
That is great and even better with a job opportunity. companies could get decent workers and could pay back to the jobs school so to add more jobs related equipment.

Hurdel might be that you cant teach youth without having a teachers degree...and many teachers think dirty hands jobs should not be taught. Enrybody needs to go to collage to become a dognut master or better.
 








 
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