i3 Detroit: Exploring the balance between technology, art and culture

With our Greased Up Pinewood Derby quickly approaching, we have been on the lookout for places where participants can have the space and tools they need to craft their winning vehicle. Along the way, we discovered i3 Detroit, a hackerspace located in Ferndale.
We caught up with Matt Oehrlein, president and director of i3 Detroit about what a hackerspace is (it’s not as sinister as it sounds), and the tools and resources that such a space provides.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved with i3 Detroit?
I moved to Michigan in June for a career opportunity when I graduated college. Knowing no one besides co-workers and some extended family on the other side of the state, I had to make new friends on my own. I knew about hackerspaces before I moved, so I decided to join one to meet like-minded people. A few months later, annual elections for officer positions came up. I wanted to give back to the organization, so I ran for office. Matt Oehrlein, i3 Detroit president, at your service.
What is a hacker space, anyway?
A hackerspace is a physical space where people with common interests in art, and/or technology can collaborate on projects and socialize. The term “hacker space” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s very rare to see anyone doing any malicious hacking. Rather, the term “hacker” comes to mean do-it-yourself improvements or disassembling things to understand and improve them. More and more we see the term “maker space” replacing “hacker space” as a more accurate description of what goes on inside the building.
Could you tell us about i3 Detroit specifically?
i3 Detroit is a collaborative environment for people to explore the balance between technology, art and culture. We feel the best way to create this environment is to bring like mind people together that share a common passion for technology, art and culture.
The community is run by its members through voting. All founding members have worked together to create a set of by-laws that all members and supporters are required to follow. The goal is to provide a safe and fun community environment and to stay a community resource through continuous hosting of various classes and events. We have created an environment that promotes learning in a fun, non-traditional format.
i3 Detroit is continually working with other hackerspaces and community organizations to work on projects, events and educational opportunities.
“i3” stands for Imagine, Innovate and Inspire
How we fund the project:
We fund the project through our Membership dues, Sponsorships, Fundraisers and Donations. All proceeds go towards paying the rent, utilities, insurance, and tools. All financial decisions are voted on by it’s members with voting rights. i3 Detroit is still working towards becoming a 501c3 organization, which will allow us to receive donations to assist us in meeting our purposes.
Our Purposes:

  • To continue to build, maintain and grow our physical space suitable for technical, art and social collaboration.
  • Collaborate on all forms of technology, art and culture in new and interesting ways.
  • Freely share its research and discoveries, using what is learned to teach others.
  • Recruit and develop talented members dedicated to these purposes.
  • To share knowledge, information and our crafts with other members and our communities.

What resources and tools are available to members and supporters?
Woodworking – Band saw, table saw, router table, scroll saw, drill press, hand tools, nail guns, planer, jointer, miter saw, and lathe
Metal working – Table top lathe, drill press, table top mill, metal break, anvil, angle grinders, full size lathe, Industrial Bridgeport CNC Mill , Bridgeport Mill, planishing hammer
Electronics – scopes, function generators, various power supplies, bread boards, soldering and desoldering stations,
Crafting – Cricut cutting machine, Cricut Cuddlebug, Yudu silk screen machine, Industrial sewing machine,vinyl cutter, basic supplies and tools.
Fun Chemistry Lab – Scales, hot plates, various (safe) chemicals, Beakers, Pipettes, Kjeldahl bulbs, Various glass jars and bottles, water traps, and much more.
Podcast Studio – 4 Quality microphones, 1 Mackie mixing board, Recording software, Compressors, Gates, and a mobile studio.
Fab Lab – 100 Watt Laser cutter, CNC plasma table, Makerbot, Vinyl cutter, T-shirt press, Button Maker, Plotter
How can visitors work in your space if they are not members?
If you would like to visit the space, just check the website www.i3detroit.com. Look in the upper right hand corner to see the status of the space. It will say either “open” or “closed”. It’s probably a good idea to give us a call too (248-556-9995) and just ask “Hey, I’m new and I’d like to visit, is anyone going to be around for the next couple hours?” Once you arrive, we’ll get you checked in, and give you a little tour. From there, you are welcome to start working on whatever you’d like (with some supervision if you want to use the big expensive tools like the laser cutter!).
Do you have certain nights that visitors can come and work?
Good nights to stop by are first and third tuesdays of every month. On these days, we have (open) membership meetings at 7:30pm and there are tons of people around. Other times that see a lot of action are open shop Friday nights and all day Saturday, so those are fun times to visit and see the place buzzing.
i3 Detroit
1481 Wordsworth, Ferndale, MI 48220

By aigadetroit
Published December 19, 2011
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