There’s a lot to discover within the Maker Movement: we met Thomas Amberg, from Switzerland, and here’s what we found out about “being a maker”!
Q. Hi Thomas! We’re glad to meet you. Let’s get started with the first question because, as you know, we’re absolutley curious: how did you end up joining the #maker movement?
A. Hi! Nice to meet you and thank you so much for this opportunity! Well, I learned to solder at a party of the Swiss Mechatronic Art Society, building a micro-noise DIY kit. Then, in 2009, I built an Internet-connected lap counter for swimming and shortly after I got an early MakerBot Cupcake CNC kit (#19). To my delight, after days of soldering and assembly, it printed objects right away! That felt like the future back then, and I was hooked.
Q. What do you most value in the innovation/maker environment?
A. Sharing results! Being able to share and reuse source code and design files, especially if you’re working in a FabLab environment, is a fantastic source of insight and innovation. Due to the standard production equipment – 3D printers, lasers, CNC – a project published on the Web can immediately be reproduced around the world. My favourite license for creative work and designs is CreativeCommons.org, CC BY-SA.
Q. What’s the maker movement outlook in your country?
A. Most people in Switzerland probably see and practice making as a hobby. The living costs are rather high, so almost everybody has a day job. There are quite some FabLabs and Hackerspaces in every part of the country, and a lively meetup scene. Also, since 2016, we (with Verein DIY Kultur Zürich) organise a Mini Maker Faire in Zürich, the biggest city, to bring makers and regular people together. And then there are open science and biohacking pioneers like @dusjagr from Hackteria.org and Urs Gaudenz from GaudiLabs who are very active internationally.
Q. In your opinion, what features in your city/destination/country is more appealing to an innovation-oriented crowd?
A. All major cities have co-working spaces and there are some startup accelerators, mostly in Zürich and Geneva. Innovation-wise a lot comes from ETH Zürich and EPFL in Lausanne. Both start embracing the maker movement. A nice example also involving design schools and applied scientists is the China Hardware Innovation Camp project, where students learn to build a connected product in a few weeks.
Q. You seem to have been able to create such a nurturing environment in Switzerland. What does your audience look like? Who do you mainly target – students, inventors, or…?
A. The audience in meetups and FabLabs, at least from my experience in Zürich, involves a wide range of people from artists and designers to engineers and entrepreneurs. A surprising development is that there seem to be more and more retired people joining the spaces and events. They’ve got plenty of time to support the community and great knowledge to share, from engineering to material science or operating a CNC machine.
Q. What do you consider your greatest goal as EMW’s Ambassador?
A. Putting Switzerland on the map!
That sounds great! We can’t wait to attend your events during the #EMW18..We know there’s something cool coming out in Switzerland and… We’ll see you soon to celebrate the Maker Movement in Europe!
Would you like to follow Thomas during the European Maker Week? Have a look at the scheduled events, join them and share your experience with us!
Stay up to date by using the hashtag #EMWeek18 and get on board!