With makerspaces like TechShop disappearing and high rents putting the squeeze on artists’ studios in the Bay Area, creative people need places to bring their ideas to life.
That’s why the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College in Los Altos — which has been offering space and state-of-the-art equipment to Foothill students for the past two years — is now opening the facility up to the public.
Memberships are now available for the general community to come in and work on their own projects in an open-lab-style setting.
“The focus is still around education, helping people develop skills and design thinking, “ said Gay Krause, KCI’s executive director. “But we decided to share this with the community — and even to corporations for team-building — because this kind of space is really needed more than ever.”
Kas Pereira, KCI’s makerspace director, agrees.
“More people locally are renting, living in small apartments where they don’t have an area to work on projects,” she said.
“TechShop San Jose closed down last year, so that option went away. And while there are makerspaces, not a lot are open to the public, and fewer still include the broad range of equipment we have.”
Indeed, KCI offers not just space to create, but the tools and the support to do it. Thanks to a previous grant, they have Dremel, MakerBot and Pegasus 3D printers, carving machines, Zing Orbit and Cricut vinyl cutters, a laser cutter, soldering stations, microcontrollers, hand tools, woodworking materials and sewing machines. While you can work on your own projects independently, there’s also a trained support staff available to help. KCI also offers courses, maker meetup events and certification training for educators running a makerspace program at their own school, library or business.
KCI expects to draw most community members from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, but the program is open to anyone in the Bay Area, Pereira said.
Retired schoolteacher and maker Doris Mourad of Los Altos says she’s been a tinkerer all her life and is always looking for new software and hardware to explore, so the makerspace is perfect for her. She started volunteering at the KCI Makerspace last year, and has now signed up for a membership.
“When I started tinkering there, I fell in love with it,” she said. “It is so fantastic, they have everything I need. I can bring in the materials I want, there’s lots of space to spread out my stuff, there’s somebody there to troubleshoot with me if I need it. I started gravitating toward the laser cutter and I’ve been using that to cut wood to make boxes and bowls. Also using it to cut leather. The 3D printers are lots of fun. It’s fantastic.”
Memberships are $150 a month if you go month-to-month or $350 for a three-month block. KCI is open to adults and to youths age 11 to 17 (those under 15 are must be supervised by a parent or guardian). The KCI Makerspace is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, plus 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
The Krause Center for Innovation is at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, in Los Altos Hills. For more information, visit www.krauseinnovationcenter.org/makerspace/.