Makerspace Bridges Gap Between Sub-communities

3D Printing Lab; Bridgewire
Metal-Welding Shop
Wood Shop; Bridgewire
Electronics Lab; Bridgewire
Plastics Shop; Bridgewire
Machine Shop; Bridgewire
Laser Etch-Cut Lab; Bridgewire
Media-Training Room; Bridgewire

What do you get when you cross technology, science, art, and culture? You get a mosaic of creation where people of all backgrounds can work together, learn from one another, and exchange knowledge and ideas. Bridgewire, in Sparks, is home to such a mosaic.

Their 5,400 square-foot-warehouse, veteran craftspeople, and ample resources allow northern Nevadans to give life to ideas that might otherwise only live in imagination. A wide variety of memberships are available to access the tools, technologies, and 24/7 awesomeness.

What exactly does Bridgewire offer?

The makerspace aspect to Bridgewire refers to their facility, resources, and “makers” of stuff. The organization offers a safe place for people to learn new skills, build projects, and use a wide variety of tools and technologies that would otherwise be inaccessible to non-industry professionals.

This miniature solar-oven can bake potatoes with sunlight. Image: Kyle Young

If you want to build that garden bench you saw on Pinterest but you’ve never picked up a saw, Bridgewire has the resources and knowledge to help you bring your bench to fruition. If you’re a CEO of a tech start-up that needs a business card to set you apart, the crew at Bridgewire can help you create a business card that not only lights up, but also acts as a communication device. Let’s say you want to help your community, but you’re not sure how. Bridgewire can teach you how to make miniature solar-ovens that can bake potatoes with only sunlight.

The hackspace aspect of Bridgewire does not refer to an elite legion of computer programming criminals. Hacking, in the broadest sense, simply refers to the reimagining or repurposing of a preexisting technology for a different use. The crew of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon was forced to hack their own ship after an unexpected oxygen tank explosion. Had the crew not repurposed and reimagined the technologies on their ship, they likely would have perished due to loss of cabin heat, a reduction in drinkable water, and asphyxiation from CO2 build-up.

The workshop component of Bridgewire is as diverse as it is impressive. The huge warehouse includes a 3D Printing Lab, an Electronics Lab, a Laser Etch/Cut Lab, a Wood Shop, a Machine Shop, a Metal/Welding Shop, a Plastics Shop, and a Media/Training Room. Each of these stations offer tools and machines that would be hard to come by for the average project-maker. A Koike 4ftx8ft CNC Plasma Table, a Shoptask 3in1 CNC Mill/Lathe, and a Makerbot are just a few of the attractive technologies offered.

Can rookies enjoy themselves at Bridgewire?

Bridgewire was created to bring technical knowledge to those who seek it. Newbies to seasoned veterans can learn any machine or tool at Bridgewire with a little patience and some qualified guidance.

BB&BS participants showing off their foam carving skills. Image: BB&BS

Even children can operate some of the tools and machinery as long as they are accompanied by a qualified adult. Because some of the machines available can be dangerous without proper training, every child brought into Bridgewire must have an adult to accompany him or her throughout the project.

Bridgewire partnered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a mentorship organization, to bring the joy of invention to northern Nevada’s youth. The adult mentor, aka “Big”, pays a discounted membership at $35, while the child mentee participates free of charge.

S.T.E.M. fields are boy’s clubs, right?

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have not always been welcoming to women. I asked board member, John Tomascheski, what the gender breakdown looks like for their membership.

“We’re not putting so much effort on S.T.E.M. It’s part of what we do, but that’s not the focus of what we do. It’s the community around building stuff, and learning, and collaborating, and sharing ideas. And within that community aspect, gender doesn’t really play a role to us. A gentleman or a lady can walk in and they are just as welcome with us,” said Tomascheski.

Bridgewire is located at 1055 Industrial Way, Suite 20, in Sparks. Financially sponsoring low-income citizens and organizations can provide them with the resources they need to inspire our world. Direct questions and donation inquiries to [email protected]. Find them online at bridgewire.org.

Kyle Young
About Kyle Young 32 Articles
Kyle Young is a local freelance writer. He offers content writing, blog posts, copywriting, and editing services. His current writing foci are food, cooking, and the oddities native to Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. He gained some food chops while working as a dishwasher, line-cook, and food-truck operator. He learned quality control, imports/exports, and logistics at a local spice and seasoning manufacturer. When not hustling as a writer, he plays Scrabble, cooks, wrangles three pups, and attends live music/comedy with his fiancé.