Welcoming A New Makerspace in Sulimaniyah
The Field Ready family of makerspaces has grown again!
Last month we welcomed Suli Innovation House in Sulimaniyah, Iraq, to our group of partner makerspaces. They join Erbil Innovation House in Erbil and and IOT Maker in Baghdad, bringing the total of Iraqi makerspaces under the Field Ready umbrella to three. All three are also part of the Maker's HIVE makerspace network.
Makerspaces are an important part of Field Ready's development aim - they provide a place for people in a community to learn new technology and skills, create, innovate, try out new ideas and build prototypes. They're also networking and training sites - and many young people discover that they're not only places to help them advance but also good places to house start-ups.
Suli Innovation House's grand opening welcomed about 45 local and international officials to the 2,500-square-foot space for a day of celebration and demonstrations, and invited members of the public in later that afternoon. Staff provided a delicious spread of local delicacies - and attendees could hop on to the "Blender Bicycle" (gifted to SIH by its sibling IOT Maker) to create their own fruit-filled smoothies to drink.
While welcoming visitors with speeches, introductions, videos, tours and food, SIH staff also showcased the makerspace's 3D printer, CNC cutting machine, laser cutter and some of the projects innovators have created using the devices at the other makerspaces. One of the most moving displays was the Careables exhibition; the exhibit features assistive pieces to help make physical challenges easier for disabled people. All of the Careables pieces were designed and printed by Erbil Innovation House community members.
Attendees also got to play with an oversized chess set that was created at IOT Maker using a laser cutter.
In addition to SIH's makerspace, the site features a coworking space, training room, crafts room, kitchen, storage room and meeting room. Community members and those participating in trainings have already benefited from an online, soft-skills training in the Basics of Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking, a technical training on 2D Design on Laser Cutter and another technical training in 2D design on the CNC machine. Team members are adding new trainings almost every week.
Trainings at SIH will be held in both English and Kurdish as often as possible to make them available to the broadest possible audience, noted Roza Shorish, SIH's community manager. "So many young people (here) don't speak English or Arabic, so we wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to learn in their native language," she said.
Staff had worked for months to build out and decorate the interior of the makerspace, as well as install the machines and equipment. Every one logged hours and hours of cleaning, hammering and painting prior to the Feb. 5 launch celebration.
But all agreed the hard work turned out well. "We had local officials and GIZ [Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit] here from 2 to 4 p.m., and at 4 p.m. (we opened) to the public and we had a very good turn out," said Shorish. "Everyone had a very good time."
We're looking forward to lots of innovation and creativity at SIH - keep your eye on this space!