What is Make ICT?
If you’ve ever driven past this building at 1500 E. Douglas Ave and wondered what it was, wonder no more! Make ICT is an 8,700 square foot facility that is home to several different areas filled with tools and equipment. It’s sort of like a gym, but instead of equipment for building your body, they have equipment for building things – whatever it might be!
Make ICT is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is operated entirely by member-volunteers. Their mission is to innovate, learn, and build community at the intersection of art, technology, science and culture.
A Maker Space
I sat down with the former board president and current member of Make ICT, Logan Pajunen, and current Treasurer and board member, David Springs, to talk about the space and get a tour.
“We’re a maker space," said Pajunen.
"That means that if people have projects they want to work on, either by themselves or with others, they can come down here and they can engage our community of amateurs and experts alike, and they can work on their project and also use our collection of tools and equipment to help them with that."
To access the maker space, you have to apply to be a member and then pay $25 a month. This will get you a key fob that will let you into the building 24/7, so you can work on your projects whenever you like.
Pajunen also mentions that this probably helps the space from getting too crowded since people can come and go whenever they need to, and they don’t have to worry about only coming during set business hours. According to Springs, their membership sits at about 365, half of which came from the last year and a half alone. "It varies from time to time, but we’ve been on an upward trend since we moved in here," he said.
Make ICT got its start with a small group of founders. "We were creative-minded guys who wanted to create a maker space”, said Pajunen, who originally got some space at Bluebird Art House in Delano before moving into the current space about three years ago. Their growth was funded in large part by a series of grants by the Wichita Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation, which allowed them to grow and thrive and buy most of the tools that they currently have.
Inside Make ICT
Resources in the space include a several thousand square foot woodshop. Pajunen said that it's very well maintained and put together and people make some of the most beautiful pieces of furniture there.
There is also a metal shop with several welders, a plasma cutter, a CNC machine and more. There’s a 3D fabrication lab, a laser cutter, an area for ceramics with a kiln, a textiles area with several sewing machines and a serger, a space for screen printing, electronics, jewelry making, and more.
There’s also a lounge, a gallery display area, and a classroom where people can take some of the many classes offered each month. Each area is led by an “area lead”, a dedicated volunteer that is an expert in that specific area, that depending on the difficulty of the task at hand and your skill level, will teach you what you need to know.
“For example, if you wanted to learn how to weld, you have very few choices in Wichita,” Springs said. “You can go to WATC for a semester and pay them thousands of dollars, or you can come over here and take a thirty dollar class to learn the basics, then get good at it by practice.”
"Assuming you were a member and you wanted to get certified on the 3D printer, however, it would only take about 30 minutes," Springs said. "I’d show you how to do it and you’d be certified at that point. There are things around here that are easy to learn and there are things around here that are a bit harder to learn.”
Typically members are required to supply their own materials for most projects, except for 3D printing where you pay per gram, but usually, if you’re trying to learn how to do something with wood or metal, for example, there’s plenty of scraps to practice on.
If you’re interested in checking out Make ICT, you have two chances each month where you can get in for free. They have an open house every second and fourth Monday of the month, called Maker Monday, between 7 and 9 p.m.
Visitors can come and take a tour and learn how to become a member. And if they have a project they want to work on, even if they’re not a member, it's a great time to come down and work on something at no charge!