Young entrepreneurs given the chance to shine

Brookings Area Makerspace offers a place for aspiring entrepreneurs to test their ideas.

The Brookings Economic Development Corporation (EDC) created this area to help aspiring entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, students and more with their ideas through a minimal amount of production.

The area contains a woodworking room, electronics station, computer area, arts area, work tables, whiteboards, 3-D printing area and a lounge space with a flat-screen TV.

Al Heuton, executive director for the EDC, said the space is “basically open to everybody.”

With an existing $35,000 in their budget, they are accepting requests for new equipment. Some ideas that have been submitted include a metal scanner and detector, laser engraver, color printer, industrial sewing machine, pottery wheel and panel saw.

They have also been considering a 3-D scanner, a machine that creates a 3-D model of a scanned photo.

Their 3-D printers, which they already have, are capable of printing off 3-D prototypes made from a special filament to create a plethora of designs.

Zachary Rogen, an SDSU student interested in becoming a member of Makerspace, said he’s seen a “full, working crescent wrench printed off” from one of these machines. 

Marketing Director for the EDC, Kristi Larsen, said the machines can create designs downloaded from the Internet or ones created through a special software. 

“We’ve actually had students say they’d be interested in teaching classes [at Makerspace] for others to learn the softwares,” Larsen said.

Larsen said a man from the Navy was interested in the idea of actually using a 3-D printer to replace parts on a ship.

With the expensive equipment they have, Heuton said safety and security is of the utmost importance. To ensure this, the EDC requires eye glasses and ear protection to be worn in addition to completing safety training before the woodworking area can be used. 

Two surveillance cameras are placed in each room, ensuring the safety and security of their members. 

“We don’t want to lose it [Makerspace] because someone made a stupid mistake,” Heuton said.

Heuton said when enough members join, a committee can be made for it.

The membership fee is $15 per month for South Dakota State University students and $25 per month for others. Members also have the option to rent a locker at Makerspace for an extra $5 per month.

The space is open from 6 a.m. to midnight located on Research Park Way.