Sector67 hackerspace prepares to expand

This hackerspace stirs creative juices
Sector67 hackerspace prepares to expand
Fractal Winter Break Camp was held last December at Sector67. Fractal was founded by Heather Wentler (picture here with the class).

I love that no two hackerspaces are alike. Each one reflects the culture and creativity of the people who lead it and the hackers who patronize it.

Sector67 is Madison’s first and friendliest hackerspace, where humans of all ages show up to hone their hobbies, experiment, invent and, best of all, learn, share and have fun. Every day, night and weekend, it’s a warm and welcoming beehive of activity–a robotics class, a kids’ computer camp, a Lego league, 3-D printers whirring, machines buzzing and sawing, keyboards tapping and the front door opening and closing in a steady stream of coming and going.

Sector67’s upcoming move to bigger digs a few blocks from its current location is a promising sign of high times–for the nonprofit as well as for the up-trending Schenk-Atwood neighborhood. A co-housing development will replace the building in which Sector currently resides. The new building–a stone’s throw from the bustling Goodman Community Center–will eventually double Sector’s footprint and dramatically increase the programming and activities inside.

Renovation includes adding a greenhouse, and founder Chris Meyer hopes the proximity to Goodman, as well as the new Operation Fresh Start a few blocks away, will create more and varied opportunities for youth education in science, technology, engineering and math.

Meyer, who spent several years planning to relocate closer to downtown at the StartingBlock incubator, is completely content with the pivot he made last summer to stay in the ‘hood, and he intends to maintain the unique relationships he has forged with nearby schools and the students he mentors and inspires. Meyer compares Sector67’s operating model to that of a one-room schoolhouse–“a blend of entrepreneurs, hobbyists and kids to allow that continuum of knowledge to get passed back and forth.”

He’s nearing his fundraising goal of $750,000 for the buildout, and the move will take place in early to mid-2018. If you’d like to learn more, or sign up for a class, become a member, or contribute to the cause by donating building materials or dollars, visit sector67.org.

Sector Sights & Sounds

A recent assignment by East High School’s 10th grade precalculus teacher to make a sundial proved tricky for at least one student in the class. Step one of the project was relatively simple: Find a circular piece of wood and use a protractor to draw the hour lines on it. The gnomon, which casts a shadow onto the dial to tell time, was a different story. After the student, my daughter, failed several attempts to cut a rectangular piece of plywood into a triangular blade using “every sharp object in the house,” I called Chris Meyer for help.

When we arrived at Sector67, Meyer was busy running a robotics class, so member Kate Baldwin, a molecular biologist and scientific illustrator, offered to assist. In a matter of minutes, Baldwin and a laser cutter shaped the wood to exact specifications. The grateful student received an A on the project and shared how cool it was to get the hands-on instruction she needed from a woman. Thank you, Kate!

Brennan Nardi is communications director at Madison Community Foundation and a former editor of Madison Magazine. Reach her at brennannardi@gmail.com.