Rarely might you find engineers mingling with hobbyists, artists and tinkerers—except at TechShop, that is.
The downtown San Jose do-it-yourself space brings together a mélange of Silicon Valley residents, all of whom share a common creative spirit. TechShop member Michael Madson invented the iC3 Charger, which can plug into multiple mobile devices of different makes and models. Another member, illustrator Genevieve Santos, creates whimsical crafts and artwork. Other members make light sabers and fashion accessories inspired by early 20th-century gears.
“We’ve got the techies, we’ve got the nerds, we’ve got the geeks that are into what people would typically categorize as, ‘Oh Silicon Valley has to do with computers and high tech,’” said TechShop San Jose General Manager Raffie Colet. “But the reality of who we are when you live here is, we’re inventors, we’re creators, we’re artists. We build hardware. We create things that are fun. We’re social…. That’s what you see in a space like this.”
TechShop San Jose opened its doors in September 2011, five years after the first TechShop opened in Menlo Park. Funded by membership and event fees, as well as donations, the workshop provides members with access to tools and equipment. It also offers public classes on topics as varied as equipment safety, CorelDRAW design software, bead making and welding.
But TechShop San Jose is “more than just the working space,” Colet said. “It’s the people within it that make it up.” Beyond facilities, TechShop provides members with a community of like-minded innovators.
“(It’s) inspiring to be surrounded by people who not only dream but actually fulfill those dreams,” TechShop member Paul Youngblood said.