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TechShop Puts High-Tech Dreams Within Reach

Maurice Mountain is a retired lawyer in Washington, D.C. He developed a prototype for a device he calls the Presto Emergency Boat Ladder. His invention is a small folding ladder that attaches to the side of a boat to help people who fall into the water. Mr. Mountain plans to mass-produce his boat ladder.

He created his invention at a workshop called TechShop. Members of TechShop use high-tech equipment to develop and produce ideas they have for inventions. Mr. Mountain says TechShop permits people to turn their dreams into reality.

“I think it encourages innovation. I think people who probably have had ideas rolling around in the back of their minds for years but have never had the opportunity to actually put them into production or even experiment with them would find this place wonderful.”

Isabella Musachio manages a TechShop in Arlington, Virginia. She says the shop has many different kinds of equipment.

“TechShop is a do-it-yourself maker space and fabrication studio. So when you come in we have all these different areas of the shop, and we have a metal shop, wood shop, plastic slab, lasers, 3D printers, electronics, textiles. I mean, we have so many different areas and we have all this equipment that is available to anybody above the age of 12 and up.”

Membership costs for TechShop start at just over $100 per month. Members are able to use costly machines including 3D modeling tools and laser cutters. Isabella Musachio says TechShop helps its members build their dreams.

“Our motto is ‘build your dreams here’ because you can really come in with just an idea, and then with the help of TechShop make that leap from an idea to building your project or your prototype or even your business.”

The business application and credit card reader Square was developed at a TechShop facility in San Francisco. Now, Square is used to charge about $8.8 billion in business transactions every year.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the TechShop workshop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2014. He said that innovation is the first step to the future. He added that TechShop is giving people the tools they need to turn their ideas into reality.

President Obama at TechShop

President Obama at TechShop

“Because of advances in technology, the opportunity is now to make the tools that are needed for production and prototypes are now democratized. They are in the hands of anybody who’s got a good idea."

Jim Newton is the founder of TechShop. He first introduced the idea for the technology workshops at an arts and sciences event called Maker Faire in San Mateo, California in 2006. His idea attracted hundreds of members during that event. Now, there are eight TechShop locations in the U.S. In all, there are more than 6,000 members.

Jim Newton has plans for two more TechShop locations in the cities of St. Louis and Los Angeles.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Enming Liu and Adrianna Zhang reported this story from Washington. Jonathan Evans wrote it for Learning English. Mario Ritter edited it.


Words in this Story

attract – v. to cause someone to like or be interested in something

facility – n. something such as a building or large piece of equipment that is built for a specific purpose

innovation n. a new idea, device, or method

prototype n. an original or first model of something from which other forms are copied or developed

What would you create at a TechShop facility? Write to us in the comments section.

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