Walsh Makerspace manager Scott Sumner brings a lifetime of creativity and problem-solving acumen to his new role. Having unveiled this unique amenity this month, Sumner took a moment to share a little bit of his background, his thoughts about the maker movement and what the future will hold for this creative enclave.
Walsh: As a founding member of the Dallas Makerspace, you’ve been part of the maker movement for years. Can you share a little bit about how you got involved?
Scott Sumner: It’s been my hobby for over ten years. There’s a group north of here that builds replica movie props. They’ll go see a movie and say, “I want that!” IF it doesn’t’ exist in real life, they’ll go and build it. I’ve been doing that for ten years, (helping to create) lots of Star Wars stuff, things from Blade Runner and Timecop.
I was also a member of the Dallas personal robotic group, which is the absolute beginning of my maker stuff. But my entire background has been non-profits for museums like the Science Place Planetarium (formerly in Dallas’ Fair Park), the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Heard Museum (in McKinney). I did everything from school field trips to making the shows and maintaining all the computers.
W: How did you end up finding out about Walsh and the makerspace?
SS: I found the job through a random web search! I applied and got the job, and that was last September. Regarding being a professional maker, this is the first time I’ve done it as a job description. But when we’ve done the movie props, it’s the same set of tools we have at Walsh. We have 3D printers and laser cutters and wood shop gear—the name is different, but the tools I’ve been working with are the same.
W: Why do you think the maker movement is having a moment right now?
SS: The maker movement is about providing tools so you can bring an idea in your head to life. I think the availability of the tools has become hugely ramped up. So much so, you can go right now and buy a 3D printer at the hardware store right now and take it home.
The accessibility of the tools has made it so much easier to do the making, and that’s what has spurred the movement. When you start having a space where someone says, “I did a project like that,” these communities form. It’s the idea of, “I may not know how to do all of this, but I know how to find the people that can.”
W: What do the maker movement and this space mean to Fort Worth?
SS: I think we’re a little bit at the tip of the iceberg. A lot of libraries around here also have small maker spaces—the Fort Worth Library’s NW branch has 3D printers—so there’s a need in the community as a whole. The library is stepping up, but when you look at Walsh, it’s a larger local resource that’s always going to be accessible, not just to residents but also to other members of the community.
W: What should residents and other maker fans know about the Walsh Maker Space?
SS: If somebody has an idea and they want to know how to make it, talk to me! My job, other than the management of this space, is to help people create things. And we have a huge slate of classes that will help everyone get comfortable with the tools and come up with their own ideas.
Residents of the Walsh community have access to the Makerspace as a community amenity. Non-residents can purchase memberships for $50* per month or $600 per year. Additional members of the same household can be added for $10 per month or $100 per year each. Equipment and material fees may apply.