Lafayette ‘makerspace’ workshop proposed for a variety of projects

A group with wide-ranging interests is hoping to launch what’s known in some circles as a “makerspace,” a community workshop of sorts where members share tools and equipment, teach classes and, well, do just about anything.

“It’s meant to be a highly collaborative space,” said Crawford Comeaux, one of the volunteers on the project. “Through that collaboration, we decide what gets done in the space. The most important thing it will deliver is culture.”

Comeaux, a software developer, said it will be a place for artists, inventors, architects, engineers and creators of all types to work together on ideas that will allow them to forward themselves.

He said a monthly fee would give members access to tools they otherwise would not be able to use or afford on their own.

“This provides people a space to test their ideas and potentially provide them, not just with the tools they need, but people who may be able to help them put together their experiments,” he said.

“It’s a place where — unlike anything in Lafayette right now — instead of the model being, ‘What’s in it for us?’ it will be, ‘What’s in it for you.’ ”

A few of the tools Comeaux hopes to attain for the space include 3-D printers, inkjet printers with special ink that enables them to print circuitry onto paper or thin plastic, and an assortment of metal- and wood-working tools.

The project is still in the conceptual stage, and the makerspace group has launched an online funding campaign to raise $8,205 to pay for professional help with initial planning.

The group raised more than $3,300 as of Monday afternoon.

Comeaux said he first got the idea for a Lafayette makerspace when he attended the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit in San Francisco.

He visited similar shared creative spaces in New York and New Orleans to research how to start one in Lafayette and also enlisted the help of his mother, Jackie Lyle, who ran the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana for 22 years and has helped start up other nonprofit and for-profit businesses.

“It’s a place where people can come to make and share ideas and skills,” said Lyle. “For instance, I just visited a makerspace in Reston, Va., last week. There was a group of middle-school-aged kids waiting on their robotics mentor.”

Lyle said the group funding is to help speed the development phase of the project, but, with or without reaching their funding goal, the makerspace will move forward.

Donations may be made online at campaigns/lft-needs-a- workshop-for-artistscreators makers/description.