Makers get to work in a new facility at Hannaford Career Center

MIDDLEBURY — Nora Swan is an experienced hat-maker, but last Thursday saw her go “back to school” to hone her skills.
The school: The Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center, which recently launched an Addison County “Makery” that gives creative people like Swan a venue in which to test new ideas using a wide assortment of tools and machines that might otherwise be beyond their financial means.
“It is such a fabulous concept to have so many of these resources in a centralized space,” said Swan, who has been working on a series of hat “blocks” — solid forms on which to design and complete her wonderful hats of all shapes, sizes and colors.
She likes the availability of tools, the advice offered by Makery mentors, and rubbing shoulders with other crafty folks.
“It couldn’t be better,” she said. “It’s very inspiring.”
MILLINER NORA SWAN, right, shows mentor Shiraz Daya a hat block that she was going to replicate in the woodshop at the Hannaford Career Center, which is home to the Addison County Makery. Below, a 3-D printer toils away producing an object that was designed on a computer in the same room this past Thursday.
Independent photos/John S. McCright
The Makery opened last fall, thanks to the help of the local business community, the career center, and entrepreneurs like product designer/engineer David Cole. The effort is being guided by a 12-person steering committee of local educators and businesspeople, including Hannaford Career Center Superintendent Dana Peterson, Cole and Addison County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Fred Kenney. The career center’s Architecture & Engineering Systems Instructor Jake Burnham and Len Schmidt, assistant director of adult technical education, are also key players in the project.
Seventeen people thus far have signed up and are paying a monthly fee of $20 that gives them access to the Makery’s woodshop, 3-D computer lab and sewing facility within the career center off Charles Avenue in Middlebury. Makery officials are continuing to recruit new members and mentors to make the space a creative hub that could soon incubate new businesses to lay down roots in Addison County.
The Makery is also showcasing the innovative programs and some of the state-of-the-art facilities at the Hannaford Career Center. Peterson noted Makery clients will soon have access to the career center’s industrial kitchen, machine shop and welding lab, facilities that — with proper guidance — will increase the variety of products that makers will be able to take from blueprint to reality.
Peterson’s goal is to eventually ramp up Makery membership to 200.  He said organizers will expand either lab offerings, or Makery hours of operation, when membership hits around 48.
Both Cole and Peterson are impressed with the enthusiasm shown by current members. Some have become Makery regulars, taking full advantage of each Thursday, from 5 -9 p.m.
“What has been surprising for me is to see the draw of software,” said Cole, a mentor in Computer Aided Design (CAD) at the Makery.
Members have access to three different varieties of modeling software: Solidworks, Sketchup and Fusion 360. Then there’s software that helps create a maker’s product on the career center’s 3-D printers.
Thanks to those facilities, makers have been able to design and produce a diverse array of objects. One person, for example, recently produced a specific Lego piece, while another made a nose cone for a rocket model.
“I really like seeing people’s interest, wherever it comes from,” Cole said. “Some people are coming from the invention side of things. Others want to refresh skills they haven’t used in a while. Others are saying, ‘I have to keep up with technology; help me do that.’ And some are saying, ‘I can’t afford this software, if I can come in here and use it for $20 a month, that’s a deal.’”
Visitors are greeted by an array of sewing machines (6), computer terminals (18), saws, hammers and levels (many), to mention but a few.
Peterson likes the impact the Makery has already had on the career center.
“The exciting thing for me has been the synergy that has developed between the mentors, the members and the career center staff and programs,” Peterson said. “As a result of this, we have made enhancements to two of our labs.”
He’s referring to the Hannaford Career Center’s woodshop and sewing lab. The presence of the Makery has prompted career center officials to be more meticulous about labeling tools and machinery and keeping the labs clean.
“We’re really hoping and anticipating that the Makery will lead to a better-outfitted career center, because of the use,” Cole said.
More information about the Makery can be found at hannafordcareercenter.org/about/the-makery. The website lays out the cost of membership, available resources and registration details.
MAKERY COMPUTER LAB mentor Nick Scott shows how a person uses computer aided design software to plan a product or component that can then be produced using the Makery’s 3-D printer.
Independent photo/John S. McCright
Peterson and Cole stressed the need for more mentors to work with makers. Ideally, the Makery should be staffed with one mentor per four makers, according to Peterson. Prospective mentors should have interest in, and some experience with, the equipment of the lab in which they want to staff. Makery officials will train prospective mentors, who receive membership discounts.
You can also find out more about the Makery during an open house on Thursday, Feb. 14, from 4-8 p.m. at the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center. The event will coincide with a career center open house and the Addison County Solid Waste Management district’s second annual repair café, at which people can get basic household items fixed rather than throwing them away. Peterson wants to see current makers represent the Makery at the open house.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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