For all of my adult life, I've been a software engineer. I make bits. You can't really touch the bits I make which makes it hard to explain what I make to non-software people like my mom. I have always wanted to also make, ummm, stuff. Stuff is touchable. Bits are not. Stuff are easier to explain than software.
Ideally, I'd like to make bits and stuff that work together. I think that's why I've always admired Apple as a company. They make stuff and they make bits. It's very rare for companies to do that. Google and Microsoft for the most part just make bits. So does my company, Axosoft. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying I relate to Google and Microsoft more than I relate to Apple, which is probably why Apple has a more mystic awe for me. Bits, I know. Stuff, not so much. Bits and stuff, I've never done. It's interesting how companies generally do one or the other, almost never do they do both.
Anyway, I'm going off track here, except I'm not. A lot of software engineers feel exactly the same as I do. In fact that was one of the driving forces behind why David Uhlman started Maker Bench with his friend Jordan Bendor. David and Jordan wanted to create a place where people could make stuff. All kinds of stuff. Wood working, jewelry, sewing, metal-working, electronics and everything in between.
David (left) and Jordan founders of Maker Bench in Tempe AZ
I love what Dave and Jordan are doing. Their idea is very disruptive. They've built a place that's open to anyone to go to and make stuff. They provide the tools and even help implement the ideas. For frequent visitors they have very affordable membership programs to provide access to all the tools and the shop 24/7. More importantly, they're building a community of people who also want to make stuff. They've put together classes for using a laser cutter, welding, making jewelry or even making your own mini CNC machine. That's very cool stuff!
I visited Maker Bench because my 6-year old son is very much into making stuff with Legos and he's ready to start building more advanced things. On our visit to Maker Bench he got his first soldering lesson by building a battery operated LED pin. Because he assembled and soldered it together himself, he absolutely loves that pin and he learned how to solder. I'm very jelous! He just loved the idea of melting metals together and who wouldn't? Melting metal is just a cool thing to do. It's worth at least a few lines of code.
During my visit to Maker Bench, I also learned about an open-source hardware device known as Arduino. WOW! Basically, the Arduino is a little 32-bit C-Programmable micro controller that costs $32.95. They sell them at Maker Bench and they also stock the Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis (published by O'Reily) which has hundreds of little projects that can be done with the Aruino device. The Arduino devices are taking the hardware prototyping world by storm. They've basically become cheap enough that people are making simple projects for personal use. At about $33 per device, it's also cheap enough to experiment with low-quantity commercial applications. Rather than having to build 10,000 devices to make hardware be cheap enough, you can build it from an Arduino board and it's already cheap.
The Arduino is an exciting and inspiring little device. After learning about this whole new world, we've decide to open up AZ Disruptor startup submissions to allow for software/hardware startups. That means we will be open to accept software startups that will make their products that much more attractive using a low-cost hardware add-on. Companies like Square are a great example of that.
So if you've ever wanted to make stuff, stop by the Maker Bench in Tempe. I love their motto: Less talking and more making. So perfect!
Great job to Dave and Jordan.