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The first person who comes to my mind when I think of a true maker is my dad. Before he had computer software readily available to generate 3D drawings, I watched him measure and create sculptures from poster board. Fast forward 30 years, he now owns a welding and fabrication job shop capable of making just about anything out of metal.

What does this have to do with the upcoming NWA Startup Weekend? We know that not everyone’s ideas will be software solutions or apps. Some innovators may be interested in making physical products, and still want to have a minimum viable product (MVP) by the pitch event on Sunday. For this subset of aspiring entrepreneurs, the NWA Fab Lab will have extended hours to open specifically for Startup Weekenders.

The NWA Fab Lab is an official makerspace that hosts equipment such as laser cutters, 3D printers, woodworking tools, and a 3D body scanner. They use open-source software that is available to the public and host trainings led by community volunteers. Both individuals and groups are invited to utilize this community resource, located just right off of the Fayetteville square. Under the direction of the Fayetteville Chamber, their vision is to encourage entrepreneurship, advance science and technology careers, contribute to the resurgence of American innovation and create a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artisans.

Whitney Green, Director of the NWA Fab Lab, told us a bit about products community members have prototyped using the Fab Lab’s equipment. One example she shared was a new drinking utensil. Their 3D printers are the same type Startup Junkie‘s Michael Iseman used to print over 25,000 board game pieces for his Kickstarter launch.

Not only will the Fab Lab be available for Startup Weekend participants to work from during the event, they have also donated a 6-month membership to the team that places first in the “Best Maker” category. At the last NWA Startup Weekend, we had engineers modifying drones. What will our participants come up with this year? Attend the pitch event Sunday afternoon to find out!

Haley Allgood Haley Allgood