How to go from zero to maker in two months

david long kickstarterSince about the time I began, I’ve been telling young people that they should reconsider the expensive, traditional route of college, that they can now become inventors of the new world — Makers — by picking up a cheap hobby 3D printer and spending time self-teaching and group-learning 3D modeling and any assorted, related skills they find interesting along the way. It’s not necessarily a piece of cake to do, but it’s not really that difficult either, at least to get yourself to an intermediate level of competency.

And people around the world are doing this in droves. Just as millions of people learned to program, to web design, to graphic design, so are people now learning to be makers, with all different sub-specialities that are arising within the movement.

But what exactly is involved in making this bold step? According to David Long, who’s launched his new Kickstarter campaign called, ZERO TO MAKER: A Re-skilling Guide for New Makers, it’s the first step that is the most difficult, the step of taking the initial leap. Once in, you’ll find not only DIY training, but most importantly he says, DIT (Do-it-Together) training. There are people the world over, in makerspaces and hackerspaces, willing to share their knowledge and time, to teach you how to start making.

You see, in 2011 David circumstanse forced to reevaluate his career, and what his education had trained him for. And he decided he wanted to learn how to make things with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, CAD software, welding and woodworking — skills that would allow him to create what he chose to create. So his first step was to immerse himself in training by taking every class he could fit in a two month period at the TechShop in San Francisco.

He found a welcoming community of makers and other makers-in-training, and within a few months he went from “interested onlooker to active participant” and within a year “from a maker novice to card-carrying evangelist; from a tool-illiterate enthusiast to a partner in a fledgling underwater robot business.” And this from someone who had called himself mechanically incompetent.

What does all this have to do with Kickstarter? He’s so thrilled at what he’s accomplished that he wants to show others how to make the same move. So he’s launched ZERO TO MAKER to do a number of things, the primary motive being to write a book about the process. It’s going to be a process in which the Kickstarter backers can be involved. He wants to interview as many as possible and use their input to help create the book that will then be sold. Backers will receive one of more copies of the book.

But he’s not stopping there. He’s teaming up with TechShop The Mill and other makerspaces to create Maker Fellowships, a two month intensive program of introduction to making. Each program will have a maximum of four students. It will begin with a full weekend of introduction and basics as follows:

zero to maker weekend

After the initial weekend, the “Fellows” then choose and take any three of the following classes:

  • Metalshop
  • Woodshop
  • Shopbot CNC
  • Autodesk Inventor 1, 2, 3 (TechShop Locations only)
  • CAD to CAM
  • Vinyl Cutter CNC

Backing the Kickstarter project sets you back as little as $10 and will earn you an early release of the ebook. There are several levels of sponsorhip above that which will get you one or more hard copy books. And then there are the four Fellowships (that’s 16 slots available) that run $1,100 per person, and are to be held in San Francisco, Austin, Detroit and Minneapolis.

Looks like Long picked up some marketing skills along the way. Great job, David.

If I could get away to any of these cities for two months, I’d be plopping down the $1,100 myself. It’s exciting to think they perhaps this old dog can learn some new tricks. When some maker courses come to my little town of San Luis Obispo, please let me know (seriously).

Check out his Kickstarter ZERO TO MAKER project.