Do Space Provides Technology Access to Community 11/13/18 11/13/18 10:24:51 AM
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Hildegard, 2, plays a memory game on a giant touchscreen while her father Stephen Tefft watches during an open house at Do Space last Thursday. (Photo by Scott Stewart)
Do Space Provides Technology Access to Community
By Scott Stewart
The Daily Record
Omaha’s free community technology library and workspace marked its third anniversary with an open house last Thursday, inviting the public to explore its slate of high-tech offerings.
Do Space opened its doors in 2015 to welcome makers, hackers, creatives and the general public to provide access and education to modern technology, such as large 3-D printers, expensive design software and brand-new virtual reality equipment.
Michael Sauers, director of technology at Do Space, said the center recently recorded its 500,000th visit and has more than 65,000 members. Most live in Omaha and its surrounding suburbs, but visitors are welcome from all over, and Sauers said some residents of Council Bluffs and Lincoln are also members.
“We’re open 90 hours a week, and we’re busy pretty every single one of them,” Sauers said. “Our programming is popular and generally full.”
The majority of visitors come to Do Space to access computers, he said. The tech center’s Macs and PCs have the Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a variety of specialty design and accessibility software, as well as games like Minecraft.
“The 3-D lab is pretty popular also,” Sauers said. “Most of the equipment is often booked at least several hours a day.”
One of those frequent users is Vince Mancuso, who was showing off costumes, ornaments and other objects he made and customized using Do Space’s laser cutter. Visitors also saw projects made with 3-D printers and the technology
center’s vinyl cutter.
Mancuso started out making Christmas ornaments, he said. That snowballed into edging designs onto water bottles and crafting a Green Lantern costume.
“I try to emphasize it to kids ... that this is free,” Mancuso said. “You just have to learn to use it.”
Another highlight of Thursday’s open house was a demonstration of a life-size R2-D2, the lovable droid from the Star Wars movie franchise.
Robert McCown, a full-time technologist at Do Space, built the robot over the past year in his spare time, including fabricating many key components on Do Space equipment. He said he’s invested hundreds of dollars into the project.
“People love it,” McCown said.
Crowds also flocked to the Active Learning Lab, where virtual reality games were being demonstrated.
Tech kits were also out for families to work on crafts, program toys and play with robots. Several people were scouting possibilities for holiday gifts and making plans to return when the crowds were smaller.
The technology center at 7205 Dodge Street offers generous operating hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. A Tech Help Desk offers technologists and volunteers to help answer members’ questions.
Do Space is a nonprofit, operated by a trust formed by Heritage Services, an Omaha civics organization that invested $7 million in private donations to transform the formers Borders bookstore across from Crossroads Mall.
After three years, Do Space has shown it meets a need in the Omaha area. It continues to improve tech literacy and provides critical access to cutting-edge technology for its members across the community.
“It’s been a rousing success,” Sauers said.
Sauers said Thursday’s open house was intended to show off Do Space for those who were curious but had never visited or didn’t yet know the full value of their free membership.
“We still get people every day who come in and ask what they can do here,” Sauers said. “It’s an opportunity to increase that exposure and encourage more people to become a member and use our services.”
One of those visitors was Julie Jarek of Bellevue, who stopped by to check out the 3-D lab.
“I’ve been wanting to come since it opened up,” Jarek said.
Find more information on Do Space, including how to reserve technology, online at www.dospace.org.
Above left: Henry Baldwin of Omaha uses a virtual reality system at Do Space.
Above right: Vince Mancuso of La Vista discusses projects he made with the laser cutter to Julie Jarek of Bellevue during an open house at Do Space. (Photos by Scott Stewart)