Just a few weeks ago, in the small town of San Luis Obispo, Calif., the 3300 sq. ft. SLO Makerspace opened its doors to the public. Along with my family, I was stoked to get a tour with the founder and CEO, Clint Slaughter. San Luis Obispo, known by the locals as SLO, is a special place for me, as it’s the home of my alma matter, Cal Poly State University. To see SLO develop its own hometown makerspace was awesome. For his full-time gig, Clint is an emergency room physician and hardcore maker on the side. Like many of us, now that he has a family, his projects are taking on a new flavor. Pete Schwartz, an associate professor of physics at Cal Poly, is on the board as well and provides an essential link with the University. Board member Rory Aronson, a recent Cal Poly grad in mechanical engineering, helped build out the space and now rents space for his research and development of open source farm robots.
One of the first things I noticed about the SLO Makerspace is that they have a big, centrally located area that’s kid-friendly. With several parents in leadership, they really want to make the space accessible to kids, who are a big part of the growing maker community. They partnered with NOVA to hold a kid’s Making Stuff workshop, which included structural engineering and an “anything goes” pinewood derby race. While working with a bare-bones budget, they want to develop the maker community in SLO and make the space available at a really low cost to members.
On several occasions, SLO Makespace has taken making outside their walls and into the community. They sponsored a space at the legendary San Luis Obispo Thursday night Farmer’s Market and wowed the crowds with their 3D printer and other showcased projects.
In May, they’re working with the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Cal Poly, and iFixit to put on the second annual SLO Mini Maker Faire to “celebrate do-it-yourself (DIY) creativity and tinkering.” The Faire will focus on Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy as the planning and execution of the Faire will be a multidisciplinary effort by students. Whether you live in the Central Coast of California or are just passing through, stop by and meet the good folks at the SLO Makerspace. They’ll stop what they’re doing and give you a tour, just like they did for us. As makerspaces are springing up all over the country, we wish them all the best in SLO Town.