Steve Popenoe shows off one of the sumo-bots he has built at IdeaWorks in downtown Fresno on Nov. 21, 2016.

Photo by: Ram Reyes

Fresno Ideaworks offers tech tools for community

December 2, 2016

A nonprofit group is teaching the community all about being creative. Fresno Ideaworks is a community workshop in downtown Fresno with the intention of teaching people different sets of skills to help them be creative.

The shop offers many classes, all taught by volunteers, in areas such as woodshop, machining, welding, glass blowing, metal working, electronics and even using a 3D printer. The nonprofit relies heavily on donations to accomplish its goal of bringing technology to all areas of the community.

Steve Popenoe, a board member and teacher at Ideaworks, says the community workshop has grown since beginning in 2012.

“The shop over the years has been becoming what we’ve been dreaming of for a long time,” he says. “It has certainly passed my dreams in a lot of ways.”

Popenoe says Fresno Ideaworks was created to “share tools and build a community around being creative, and taking ideas into the physical world.”

Volunteer Melody Boats says the shop seeks to cater to their growing audience and grow as a community.

“We want everyone to have access to this place regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or politics,” Boats said. “We believe that everybody has a maker within them and we are all are artists. Whether you’re a technical artist, a painter, work with clay or metal or whatever it is,” she said.

Currently, Fresno Ideaworks is working on a project to introduce people to the world of robotics. They started classes to teach students and adults about coding and building their own personal sumo-bot.

Volunteer Matt Nelson says the project was started to help utilize all the things that can be taught at the shop.

“We wanted a project to incorporate all aspects of the shop,” Nelson said. “The woodshop, the machine shop, the electronics programming and robots do that for us.”

For a calendar of workshops and information on classes, visit fresnoideaworks.org.

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