By Dean Whittaker

While attending the International Economic Development Leadership Summit last week, I heard a panel discussion regarding the concept of hackerspace, a community sponsored, physical space equipped with tools to make things, that is inhabited by local tinkerers of all ages who enjoy taking things apart and making new things from the pieces and parts. Most schools have long since done away with their shop classes in favor and other, more knowledge-based, curriculum. The consequence is a generation of inept DIY folks that have a difficult time assembling IKEA furniture.

Fortunately, the maker’s movement is bringing back the urge to create physical objects as well as writing code using open source software and hardware. The Make magazine is a great place to begin to understand the magnitude and significance of this maker’s movement.

What the panelists described was the interaction between generations using hackerspaces in which older generations are passing on their skills to the younger tinkerers with fascinating results. The panelists went on to explain how the ideas that come out of the hackerspace can result in startup companies in their incubator facilities.
Here’s just one example of what is going on in Madison, Wisconsin in Sector67.

“Sector67 is a non-profit collaborative space in Madison, WI dedicated to providing an environment to learn, teach, work-on, build, and create next generation technology; including software, hardware, electronics, art, sewing, pottery, glass, metalwork, iPhone/Android applications, games, etc.”

With 10,000 baby boomers eligible to retire per day for the next 19 years, perhaps, we may find a way to continue to contribute and to feel useful as we share our skills with a new generation of builders. Think of the opportunities to teach your grandchildren useful skills and for them to teach you the latest technology.