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Workshops Help Innovators Build Dreams

April 23, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
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  • A TechShop member works with a laser at the high-tech workshop's San Francisco location.

A high-tech workshop giving hobbyists and professionals alike access to millions of dollars of gadgetry, from computers to woodworking tools and other equipment they might otherwise not be able to afford, opened in Virginia and offers enthusiasts a place to literally build their dreams—or at least a cutting board for Mother’s Day. Membership for most who join TechShop comes with a cost but is free for military veterans, as TechShop has partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation.

TechShop, which recently opened a 20,000-square-foot space in the Crystal Shops in Arlington, Virginia, has computers uploaded with $20,000 worth of software, a high-powered water jet that can cut through several inches of steel, a fully equipped wood shop, 3-D printers and a laser cutter and etcher.

“There’s a deficit in people knowing how to make things with their hands,” Isabella Iglesias-Musachio, TechShop’s interim general manager, says. “We’re giving people access to the tools to build their dreams.”

TechShop offers classes on how to operate the machines; classes are booked until May.

Three-month, annual and lifetime memberships are available, and TechShop also offers corporate memberships.

“Our typical member is anyone,” Iglesias-Musachio says. “You could be sitting next to an engineer, an art teacher or a 12-year-old kid.”

Arlington is TechShop’s eighth location nationwide. Three are in California: San Carlos, San Francisco and San Jose. Shops also have opened in Chandler, Arizona; Detroit; Pittsburgh; and Austin, Texas.

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