While I’ve gone in depth on the Maker Move­ment before, here’s the dis­til­la­tion for the Chicago crowd. I’ve been involved in the maker move­ment since 2009, almost entirely in Chicago: in fact, in 2011 I was Pres­i­dent of Pump­ing Sta­tion: One, Chicago’s largest and old­est makerspace.

The momen­tum for the Maker Move­ment in Chicago started in 2009, when Pump­ing Sta­tion: One opened its first phys­i­cal space. Since then, PS:One has become one of the most notable mak­er­spaces in the move­ment. In 2012, Chicago had its first North­side Mini Maker Faire. Cat­alyze Chicago opened in 2014, focus­ing on phys­i­cal hard­ware cre­ation. In 2015, the Maker Move­ment took over the Tech­nori Pitch in Chicago, a night usu­ally ded­i­cated to software-primary projects, and in this case those mak­ers pitched to a sold-out crowd of 500.

Today, Chicago’s maker envi­ron­ment is wide and var­ied, with some spaces that do a lit­tle bit of every­thing all the way to the other extreme of uni­task­ing spaces.

(Arduino bread­board work­shop, Pump­ing Sta­tion: One in 2011)

With ORD Camp gear­ing up this year again shortly, I fig­ured it would be use­ful to do the run­down, both for folks join­ing the move­ment now and those look­ing for new places to rejoin the fun.

A brief tour through Chicago’s var­i­ous makerspaces:

Pump­ing Sta­tion: One itself is six years old with over 400 pay­ing mem­bers
(some of my pho­tos of PS:One here): a broad-based membership-focused space

Cat­alyze Chicago, just over the river from down­town in the West Loop, which focuses on mov­ing phys­i­cal inven­tions from con­cept to production

SSH Chicago on the South Side (Bridge­port): also a broad-based space

Chicago Indus­trial Arts and Design Cen­ter in Rogers Park

Edge­wa­ter Work­bench in — you guessed it — Edge­wa­ter, which includes 3D print­ing and laser cut­ting ser­vices as well as do-it-yourself

Museum of Sci­ence and Industry’s Fab Lab (some of my pic­tures here
and more pic­tures here)

Chicago Pub­lic Library Maker Lab, with Mini Maker Labs being grad­u­ally
spread through­out the Chicago Pub­lic Library system

Blue1647, serv­ing the South and West Sides, which cov­ers cowork­ing as well as a stu­dent learn­ing lab (arti­cle here)

Chicago Inno­va­tion Exchange’s Fab Lab at The Uni­ver­sity of Chicago

The Mak­ery, West Loop ad hoc space for makers

Chicago Children’s Museum Tin­ker­ing Lab, a kids- and family-focused space

Lev­elUp, a teen-focused mak­er­space on the South Side, not far from
Mid­way Airport

Bit Space, for ages 6–13 in Lin­coln Square

Hack­Stu­dio, for stu­dents in grades 3–12 in Evanston

Work­shop 88 and Space­Lab in the ‘burbs (Glen Ellyn and
Mokena, respectively)

There’s also a more in-depth overview of the three old­est Chicago-area mak­er­spaces here. Many other pri­vate mak­er­spaces and labs do exist in Chicago, but they’re fre­quently not open to join or use. Lane Tech’s Inno­va­tion and Cre­ation Lab is a prime exam­ple: keep an eye out for occa­sional events.

For some­one just get­ting into mak­ing, the Chicago Pub­lic Library Maker Lab and the Museum of Sci­ence and Industry’s Fab Lab are great options, with classes and ter­rific envi­ron­ments for learn­ing. For those more ded­i­cated (depend­ing on their angle to mak­ing), I rec­om­mend Cat­alyze Chicago, Pump­ing Sta­tion: One, or SSH Chicago.

Aside from spaces, there are also pop-up expe­ri­ences and events and mee­tups, like:

Mini Maker Faires

Chi Hack Night (focus­ing on civic tech, they pro­duce most Open City Apps: here’s Chi Hack Night’s great 2015 year in review post)

Maker Biz

Chicago Women Devel­op­ers Hack Nights

Girl Develop It

Design Tech Weekend

Ran­dom Hacks of Kindness

Cod­ing While Black



Chicago City of Learn­ing (teen/kid-specific)

Com­edy Hack Day

Cen­ter for Lost Arts (my pho­tos from their orig­i­nal space’s clos­ing party here)

ORD Camp (which I’ve pre­vi­ously writ­ten about, though it’s not open to
the public)

Power Rac­ing Series (if/when it’s in town: it started here in Chicago but
grew nationally)

• And one near and dear to our hearts here at Right­point, hav­ing taken on a
project for them: the EPIC Maker Rally

(Arduino work­shop, Pump­ing Sta­tion: One in 2011)

As I’ve said before: as upstart, as DIY, as muddle-it-through-until-you-find-an-answer as the Maker Move­ment might be, it’s also the per­fect place for curi­ous, scrappy, whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done inter- and intra-disciplinarians like us that enjoy being both high-level and in-the-weeds. We who love hyphens in what­ever we do.

So try some­thing new, or a new take on some­thing you’ve done before: go to a hack night, a mak­er­space, a Maker Faire, or any­thing you like in the maker space (so to speak). You’ll learn some­thing new — almost guar­an­teed — and meet new folks, and emerge inspired.

Orig­i­nally posted at http://community.rightpoint.com/blogs/viewpoint/archive/2016/01/14/the-maker-movement-chicago-edition.aspx on 1–14–2016 at 10:19 AM