The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held a meeting for makerspace organizers on Aug. 24 in Washington, D.C., helping them understand federal government support and also developing collaborative networks of spaces across the U.S.
Out of the 150 organizers who attended, two companies from Hawaii — Oahu Makerspace in Honolulu and Maui Makers in Wailuku — were also invited to share what the islands are up to.
A “makerspace” or “hackerspace” is a community space where people can work together, share ideas and use shared equipment and space to design and build projects together. Ross Mukai, co-founder of Oahu Makerspace, describes it as “similar to a gym membership because you don’t need to use and store equipment at home. One of the greatest advantages to working together is when individuals from different backgrounds share their knowledge, new ideas and solutions that combine those experiences can be found.”
Mukai said the concept has gained support from numerous government agencies for its connection to workforce development, innovation, manufacturing, and contributions to tomorrow’s game changers and the next disruptive technology.
“Enabling and encouraging people to engage with the next generation of high-tech manufacturing tools creates conditions to support a new generation of American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing economy,” he said, “and gives people the tools and confidence they need to bring ideas into reality.”
Mukai said one tool in common was a mentorship network made up of people that help with idea start-ups.
“The biggest impact we definitely learned at the meeting was the discussion with a lot of the spaces across the country that we met, talking with each other, trading notes and war stories.”
Mukai said challenges specific to Hawaii are the cost of shipping, but said other makerspace companies also had to deal with cost-of-living, lease rent prices and energy cost concerns comparable to the islands.