By Raymond Tran
I am a Grade 11 student at Kennedy High School, captain of our FIRST Robotics team, and director of an organization that supports entrepreneurs who work together to solve challenges in our communities.
This year I travelled to Toronto to present my company – Tea School – as a finalist in the Make Your Pitch contest and I also travelled to California to learn about startup companies in Silicon Valley.
In twenty years, I will be 36 years old and plan on being the CEO of a technology startup company that employs 25 people in Windsor.
That’s the goal.
Which is why I hope my voice finds a way into the city’s 20 Year Strategy, because I could use your help.
In twenty years, I expect to see today’s technology like cell phones and laptops in an antique store. That constant tech turnover presents a pretty good business opportunity for young people like myself who like to tinker with hardware and software and dream of coming up with the next big thing.
Windsor could benefit from a community space where my friends and I can access tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and digital labs to design, build and test robots or mobile applications or just design some cool art.
I’m talking about a makerspace.
There are over 2000 makerspaces in the United States. People call it a maker movement and there is a growing group of Maker Mayors committed to building maker spaces in their communities.
Makerspaces put tools in people’s hands that they otherwise could not afford. A basic 3D printer starts at about three thousand dollars.
Check out Hackforge on Ouellette Avenue to get a glimpse of a young makerspace in action. But a makerspace can be built anywhere – inside a library or an old factory building.
We happen to have both.
And we also have thousands of professionals – working or retired – who have skills they are ready to share with young people. As a manufacturing town, designing and building things is in our DNA.
We just need the space and the tools to build together, which is another way of saying we need partnerships.
The urgency comes from the fact that makerspaces are more than just a hobby space. Makerspaces are launching pads for startup companies.
Makerbot – a company with 500 employees that just sold for $400 million—was hatched in a makerspace in New York.
Maybe one day – twenty years from now – that could be my company making waves in my City.