In August, PS1 conducted its first-ever member survey to better find out who we are, how we use the space, and what improvements we would most like to see. 190 people responded. The results are available here.
Although member satisfaction is generally high, by far the largest complaint members have about the space centers on issues of cleanliness, organization, and tool maintenance. Concerns like these are sometimes dismissed as unsolvable given PS1’s loose, volunteer-run structure. But the frustration members feel about their inability to get work done in the space cuts straight to PS1’s mission of enabling people to create, and survey respondents had lots of viable suggestions for improving cleanliness, tool uptime, and the layout of the space.
The main reasons that people join PS1 are, unsurprisingly, access to tools and to workspace. But the next most common reason is access to community, and many members seem to be hungering for more opportunities to meet, share projects, learn new skills, and interact face-to-face. PS1 should consider ways to foster collaboration.
PS1 is not very diverse. 82% of members are white and 82% are male. In fact, PS1 seems to be growing less diverse over time: the group of members who joined in the past year are more homogenous than previous cohorts, although it’s impossible to tell from the survey what might be driving this trend (or if it even is a trend). Nevertheless, the survey does show that members of PS1 who are not white males cite social and cultural issues as needing improvement at a much higher rate than white males.
The full report contains a detailed breakdown of all the survey data, complete with pretty charts and fancy tables. Please read and discuss.
PS1 will be holding annual board elections on January 15, 2019. Board elections affect everyone in the organization, whether you are a voting member or not, and you can participate in all sorts of ways: running for a seat, voting in the election, or simply asking candidates questions about the issues you care about.
If you are interested in shaping the future of the organization, please do consider running for a board seat. The only requirement is that you have to be a member in good standing for the six months leading up to the election. New members are absolutely eligible for the board and encouraged to run.
You might be used to thinking of board members as remote god-like beings who bestride the earth like a colossus. And that’s because we absolutely are. The point is that you too can be one of those god-like beings, doing all that bestriding.
If you are interested in learning more about what the board does, please attend a board meeting. We have board meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 7pm, and they are always open to the public. Or reach out to a board member directly.
The board (presently) has eight positions:
Chief Technology Officer
Public relations director
2 Directors at large
You can learn more about what each position entails, and who the present board members are, here.
PS1 is hosting its first-ever holiday craft fair. Come by this Sunday, December 2 from 11:30 – 2pm to peruse a selection of handcrafted…crafts made by your talented peers. This will be a more interesting and unusual selection of holiday gifts than your standard fair, so please stop by.
Schurz High School, located just down the street from us on Addison & Milwaukee, is hoping to boost involvement in their FIRST Robotics Team (FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). And they need your help!
WHO? Experts who want to mentor amazing teens in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, coding, robotics
WHAT? FIRST was founded over 25 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen. First teaches skills to kids from age 6 to 18. Learn more here.
WHEN? Tuesdays from 3 – 6 pm (or any amount of time during that block you can commit).
WHY? Because children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside. But really because you get to help design and keep a rad robot-bulldog t-shirt. Plus, robots.
Schurz is a neighborhood school with no entry requirements whose student body is 95% low-income youth. It is the site of Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, where PS1 has a regular presence.
When PS1 got the Tormach 1100, our single biggest investment in a tool, we were determined to do it right. Not just the installation, but also creating an educational path that went far beyond a standard authorization.
PS1 has just launched its first two provisional authorization sessions. Students were selected who had already attained the prerequisite authorizations. To get authorized on the Tormach, you first need to get authorized on:
Tier 1 Metals
You should also be proficient in CAM before getting authorized on the Tormach.
Assuming you have all that stuff on lock, getting authorized on the Tormach is as easy as 1-2-3:
Take an online course and pass the associated quiz
Attend a Tormach live training (2-3 hours)
Submit a personal project for CAM & G-code review
Events & Resources
In addition to the authorization path, there are lot of ways to get more familiar with the Tormach and its amazing powers.
Fusion360 Meet-Ups: Andrew Camardella hosts biweekly Fusion360 meet-ups to spruce up your CAD & CAM skills. All skill levels welcome. Check the events page.
Tormach user Meet-Ups: Starting this winter, will be having public Tormach user group meetings to discuss tooling, projects, machine optimization and other related topics.
I’m Mark, the new kitchen area host, and I’m trying to bring all the benefits of VR/AR/MR to disciplines across Pumping Station: One. Below’s an example of how I’m using it for food design.
You are welcome to come talk to me about incorporating experience-creation tools for food purposes during kitchen office hours Saturday 10am to 12pm, but I’m also interested in enabling you to use these for your own projects. Sundays from 12pm – 3pm we’ve been having “Let’s Make VR” upstairs in electronics. The current project is trying to capture our space in a demo that can be shared with the outside world using VR, helping members capture and display their projects in virtual spaces using photogrammetry and 3D scanning, and recording 360 training to be used in the app.
If you’re an area host and you’d like some training recorded, reach out to me to schedule a time. If you want to use our tools to recreate and capture experiences, see how your furniture is going to look in your living room before making it- or send it to a friend and let them check it out with AR tools, come to one of the above events and let’s talk about it. More members are getting familiar with the tools & we’ll be posting tutorials to Canvas soon.
PS1 will be hosting its first-ever micro-Hebocon this Saturday, October 20. A micro-Hebocon is like a regular Hebocon, but even crappier: all robots will be powered by a wind-up motor that provides about four seconds of energy.
PS1 is providing the motors free of charge. Also beer, free of charge. Bring whatever other parts you desire, or see what is available in the micro-junkyard of odd robot parts that PS1 will make available at the event.
The micro-junkyard will include an Iron Chef-style surprise ingredient. Probably not octopus, and probably not uranium…but maybe!
Worried you won’t be able to create a functioning robot? No worries, there is also an aesthetics award to be given out to the fanciest robot on the strip.
The event takes place from 7pm to 10pm, this Saturday, October 20. 21 and over only, please. No entrance fee, but please email Kathryn Born if you plan to participate. [email protected]
Oh, one other thing: if you do happen to be a skilled roboticist, don’t despair! Just challenge yourself by adding a handicap:
Try combinations that you would never do at work, like making a propeller with dried squid rather than plastic or metal;
Avoid technology that you’re familiar with. Do not use a soldering iron, or other tools;
Make it with your left hand (if you are right-handed);
Make it with your feet;
Leave the most important part to a 5-year-old child to make it for you.
Locktoberfest is coming back to PS1 on Sunday, October 14 from 11am to 5pm. The event is fun and free (although you should register if you plan to attend). Come learn how to pick locks, marvel at the skills of experienced lockpickers, eat food, and drink exciting beverages:
Locktoberfest is a party! First things first, we’re here to have fun. What’s fun for us? Lockpicking! Also: beer and brats and…. you! Locktoberfest is open to everyone, from world class lockpickers to those interested in learning for the first time.
Open House Chicago is a great annual event. On the weekend of October 13 – 14, 250 locations across Chicago open their doors to the public to give them a glimpse, for free, of what goes on inside.
PS:1 is one of those 250 locations. This is our second year of participation, and it is not only an honor to be included, it is a rare opportunity for us to show ourselves off to a much wider swathe of the public than we normally interact with.
This is more than just a vanity exercise. We are trying to use OHC to drive new memberships. New memberships are critical to our finances and bear heavily on issues like how we will navigate the building sale. It’s an important weekend for us.
So we need your help. I am looking for three types of volunteer:
Tour guides. Open House Chicago tours are not the same thing as our regular Tuesday tours. They need to be shorter and, for lack of a better term, more interesting. That is, OHC visitors don’t care about the authorization process or Tidy Space policy. Tours should be quick and more focused on the big picture of PS:1. What is a makerspace? What is the maker movement? What do people do here? Etc.
Demo monkeys. Staring at an unused CNC plasma cutter isn’t that exciting. Watching a CNC plasma cutter carve up plate steel is cool. For the OHC weekend, ideally we will have our tools in operation, so that people can witness the act of making firsthand. Lathes, lasers, mills, printers, you name it. If you can operate it, please come help us show it off.
Personal projects. Do you make your own musical instruments? Your own telescopes? Your own costumes? Consider dropping by during OHC to show off some of the great stuff you’ve made at PS1 to the public, even just for a few hours.
Organizers. Beyond the work on the weekend itself, we need to get ready for the event. Even if you’re not available on October 13 – 14, perhaps you’re interested in laying groundwork for the event.
If you think you might be interested, please submit your name here. Signing up isn’t a commitment — even if you just think you possibly could want to help, get in touch.
By the way, Chicago Architecture Center, the organizer of the event, offers training for tour guides that includes free swag and other fun perks. Training with the OHC isn’t required, but if you want to participate in the OHC training, please register your interest now — we will schedule the training session soon.