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What is a ‘Makerspace’ and Will Lafayette Get One?

photo by Sam Stokes

What do you get when you put a software developer, a realtor, a robotics engineer, artist, photographer, and designer together? Some great ideas! Crawford Comeaux, Jackie Lyle, and David Mayor are seeking funding in the amount of $8,205.13 for a makerspace, a community workshop offering tools, training and workspace for creating items that can’t routinely be crafted by individuals working alone. I imagine them eventually working with the FIRST Robotics program, the Lafayette Science Museum, and the STEM Academy to help Lafayette produce more creative and technology experts who will choose to help grow Lafayette into the tech city we aspire to be.

Crawford Comeaux, organizer of the funding campaign, says he envisions the space as a 24-hour second home for people of all ages who want to make something that requires creativity. While most makerspaces’ activities are technology-focused, the group stresses the importance of being just as inclusive to artists and geeks alike.

The workshop could be used by artists, inventors, craftsmen, writers and others with ideas for making items or testing their designs and creations. These “makers” could gain access to the workshop and tools by purchasing memberships, teaching classes, or building items required for ongoing projects.

The group plans to let the makerspace grow organically, allowing the community to decide what tools would be housed in the warehouse. Examples of what the space may wind up housing include 3-D printers, metalworking equipment, laser etchers, photography equipment, robotics equipment, open-source electronics–such as Arduino-based projects–and large-scale woodworking tools, in addition to other resources suggested by users. “This is meant to be a highly dynamic place where nothing is set in stone,” says Comeaux. “We want to meet the needs of the community as we discover them.”

The workshop would also be available for field trips, family projects and educational activities.

“Lafayette has laid the groundwork, but is still striving to fully-establish itself as a tech city,” said Comeaux. “A makerspace will link the creative disciplines and give people access to tools. It would give people a place to connect, share their ideas, and work side by side. A place like this could increase innovation, collaboration, and community.”

They plan to locate Lafayette’s makerspace in a  former warehouse in Freetown. It will become only the second of its kind in Louisiana. The first is in New Orleans.

“I think of this project as providing a big sandbox where all of the highly creative people in Lafayette can get together and make stuff,” said Comeaux. “A makerspace doesn’t thrive because of the diversity and quality of its tools, but because of the diversity and quality of its people and the collaborative culture they create. Our city’s a great fit in that respect.”

For more information, visit www.lftum.com or contact Crawford Comeaux at (337) 739-2846 or Jackie Lyle at (337) 234-5906.

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