A community of creation is what Quelab offers.
The Albuquerque hackerspace/makerspace provides a venue where members can invent and collaborate on projects focused on the STEAM core: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Nonmembers can get an inside look during Quelab Hacknight Open House events from 7 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday and the each first Sunday of the month. The next event will be held on Sunday, Jan. 5, at the makerspace.
“For Hacknight, that’s the time the Quelab is open to the public for people to come and visit our makerspace, give more of a feel of what a makerspace is and what they might do there,” said Rebecca Snyder, who is on the Quelab board of directors and one of the volunteer stewards. “We do a tour of our 10,000-square-foot facility for visitors, and we have all sorts of things they can see there that are for our members to use.”
The facility features laser cutters, a digital arts lab with a wide-format photo printer and vinyl cutter, 3D printers, a photography darkroom, a wood shop, fiber arts, machine shop, a hot area for welding and a furnace, a white board data projector and a game room where people can hang out and relax.
“I think the most common thing is people join Quelab to get access to the space and they have something in particular that they’re thinking of that they want to make or that they want to learn to do and they have this in mind, but once they come in and are part of the community and are talking to people, they usually get other ideas of what they want to do that take them in totally new directions,” Snyder said. “We had someone who joined to repair things for his work department and ended up actually starting his own business in a different area. He started to work on things in the machine shop and he ended up learning about electronics and realizing there was a product out there that his profession had a need for and creating that and started a business for that.”
Many will join Quelab with an idea in mind but change their course of direction after working with others at the makerspace.
“We have someone who did drawings who in some collaborations with other makers he was inspired to do some 3-D printing in his art and use some etching techniques that are commonly used in electronics to etch art prints,” Snyder said. “We have had people create adaptive devices for themselves and others. We’ve had people combine electronics and agriculture to build devices to help on their family farm. There’s great variety of things that people get into.”
Quelab members can create on their own time. Members receive access to the facility 24 hours, seven days a week. They also receive invitations to member exclusive events such as the recent holiday party, Techmas, where technology-themed items such as wreaths were created using circuit boards. The regular membership fee is $50 per month and $25 monthly for students. A discounted rate is also given to members of the same household. Quelab is now doing a membership drive with an annual membership of $240.
“Quelab was founded in 2009 by four people in the Albuquerque maker community, and it started as a … better-than-average garage workshop, you might say,” Snyder said. “It then grew to a community of makers, and in 2014 we moved to our current facility, which is 10,000 square feet. We are entirely member run. We are volunteer run. We are a 501(c)(3) with a seven member board that is elected by our members. We have 20 subject matter volunteer stewards who train and mentor people in their subject areas, and we also try to make things accessible to people as far as our memberships.”