Calling all builders to the Whistler Makerspace 

Web designer wants to create community hub for tech and manufacturing

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Making a mark Andrew Smith is looking for people interested in sharing a communal workspace for technology and manufacturing.
  • Photo submitted
  • Making a mark Andrew Smith is looking for people interested in sharing a communal workspace for technology and manufacturing.

Andrew Smith has been a web designer and developer for years, but recently he's been drawn to making things that are a little more tangible.

And with recent innovations meaning new technologies are as accessible as ever, the 40-year-old Smith hopes to create a communal space where Whistlerites can collaborate on doing just that: building stuff.

With a community teeming with creative people who love to get their hands dirty, Smith thinks the resort would be the perfect home for his latest vision, the Whistler Makerspace, a not-for-profit community workshop where likeminded individuals could meet and work together on electronics, robotics, arts, crafts, welding or any other kind of manufacturing.

"There's a lot of people in the bike and ski community that like to build things and make something better, so I'm just looking for a space where someone could go and meet with likeminded people but maybe also pick up another skill," Smith said. "So if you're into hardware, welding, milling or even crafts, exploring the art-side of making things, then this is for you."

The concept behind a makerspace, or hackerspace as it's sometimes called, is not a new one, and has already caught in larger B.C. communities like Vancouver and Victoria. It's a communal work and storage space that also serves as a social hub and resource for those who may not have ready access to manufacturing tools or tech equipment.

In fact, Smith managed to garner some support for the concept from attendees at last week's Grow Conference in Whistler, with its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, but is hoping the idea also takes hold locally.

"I started floating the idea around about two years ago. I built a website and it just sat there," Smith said.

"I talked to people and garnered a little interest but it picked up as soon as people started hearing about things like 3D printers and started to get interested in quick fabrication, laser cutting and all these tools that are coming down in price and are now accessible to everybody. There's just no place in Whistler for that."

He said the space could serve everyone from commercial manufacturers trying to get a product to market, to curious hobbyists tinkering with their own projects. Smith also hopes the space can become an educational forum where experts will hold workshops and lectures.

Now, Smith is looking at a 1,000 square foot space in Function Junction that would cost around $2,000 a month to operate. He said he has about a dozen interested parties, but would like to get that number up to 20 to bring down the shared costs.

For more information, or to contact Smith directly, visit www.whistlermakerspace.org.

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