Our Story

The history of Open Source Maker Labs is a unique journey that reflects our community and our ideology. The following stories are of the sponsored teams, members, and events we have supported, and in turn have supported us. They each reflect the goals of our business, which are to foster collaboration and communication, facilitate creation and innovation, and to support all iterations of makers, entrepreneurs, and those interested in expanding their knowledge and skills.

UCSD SEDS Vulcan 1 Team

College graduates in the current economical climate often find themselves in a difficult cycle: they need experience to be hired, but also need to be hired to get experience. To break that cycle, a group of students from UC San Diego decided to create their own experience by starting an organization called Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, or SEDS.

SEDS is a 501(c)3 non-profit that empowers young people to participate and make and impact in space exploration. SEDS helps students develop their technical and and leadership skills by providing opportunities to manage and participate in national projects as well as to attend conferences, publish their work, and develop their professional network, in order to help students become more effective in their present and future careers in industry, academia, government, and education.

The UCSD SEDS team has designed and built Vulcan-1, twenty foot rocket with a 3D-printed engine powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. The group performs frequent tests and builds to improve the design and structure of their rocket. In 2015, they ran a successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter, raising $21,882 to pay for the industrial 3D print in inconel (a nickel alloy) of their custom designed engine. The team has learned CAD on the fly and taught each other how to use power tools and fabrication machines. Through involvement in SEDS, these students are learning how to be self-advocates for gaining new skill sets and understanding how the components of their industries work, making them much more competitive as they enter the aerospace job market.

Becoming a build space for SEDS naturally fit in with many of our goals here at OSML, and since we currently host two FIRST Robotics teams and several entrepreneurs developing product prototypes, we have multiple generations collaborating together through engineering and technical knowledge.

Del Mar Unified School District

In professional environments, the knowledge necessary to do a job well is not usually found within one topic or subject. Information drawn from several resources and topics, like utilizing knowledge of math and art or physical sciences and literature, usually allows one to complete a more well-rounded project. Learning however, is often restricted to one subject at a time. Creating projects, lectures, and curriculum that incorporate multiple disciplines teaches students to think critically about the material, and better prepares them for the realities of their future careers. 

The Del Mar Unified School District received significant support through through their foundation, which provided funding for 40 speciality area teachers to augment the core instructional areas. Shelley Petersen, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, approached us with a request to develop a series of workshops to help integrate the specialty areas with the core subjects.

With these goals and concepts in mind, we developed a hands-on, full day workshop that would allow the specialists and core subject teachers to experience the “art of the possible,” which explores teachers connecting multiple subject areas through hands-on projects and experiments. The workshop also motivates the instructors to collaborate and integrate across disciplines. Some of the themes include connected learning, project based learning, and mapping curricula to standards (both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards). We included several hands-on challenges to illustrate cross-subject collaboration in three workshops that included a total of 48 teachers. The teams were great to work with, and everyone was engaged and enthusiastic about connecting between subjects! We look forward to continuing these workshops and our work with the Del Mar Unified School District.


FIRST Robotics

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to facilitate young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The mission of FIRST is to inspire the next generation of leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build engineering and fabrication skills, inspire innovation, and foster communication and self-confidence. We currently host two FIRST teams, at the high school and elementary levels. Both needed a space to build and collaborate, where they would have access to tools and equipment, and could work as a team effectively. OSML has been hosting the high school Top Hat Technicians since 2013, and the elementary Red Belt Robots since 2015. We've fostered some great collaborations between the high school and elementary teams as well, allowing the younger Makers to learn "gracious professionalism," and the Top Hats to gain experience as mentors and role models.

The Top Hat Technicians operate year round, but their competition consists of an intense six-week build session where they must design, build, and learn to operate a remote-controlled robot. All of the work is completed outside of school hours, and the students must be self-driven to accomplish their goals. Additionally, each competition year is an entirely new challenge, so the team must undertake the full engineering cycle each time. They are guided by a team of exceptional volunteer mentors, from local companies like Northrup Grumman, ViaSat, Leidos, Callaway, and Qualcomm. Each team operates like a startup company, with business functions like marketing and finance that work with engineering and operations to build the best robot they can.

The Red Belt Robots are a brand new FIRST Lego League team. They've made great progress this year as "rookies," and have received some additional mentoring from members of the Top Hat Technicians. They also have some adult members assisting in their growth and facilitating learning. The Lego League challenges focus on designing, building, and programming much like the high school level, but are assisted in this task by utilizing Legos as building materials.

The Lab Space

Our original lab space started in Dan and Mary Alice Hendricks garage. We treated the prospective business much like a new project: we planned, prototyped, and tested our ideas before putting them into action. Though the space was smaller, we were determined to create a functional replica of a larger lab area. We started with a few machines, a few basic classes, and the 2013 Top Hat Technicians as our guinea pigs. With their help, we tested our Introduction to Arduino and Virtual Computing classes. We also invested in and tested some of the machines currently in use in our Vista lab, including the CNC router capable of cutting wood and acrylic, and our CNC mill and lathe capable of working with plastics and metals.

Once we had built up the business as much as possible within a small space, it was time to find a more permanent residence with the capability of hosting more than one team of Makers at a time. The current lab space fits our needs, in that it has a large open work area, a smaller collaboration space, and a classroom. The current lab setup allows for a relatively large number of makers at a time, where members can interact and collaborate while still meeting their project goals.