Katie Rast

Maker / info@fablabsd.org / @fablabsd / www.fablabsd.org

Director of FabLab, Katie Rast believes in bringing people and technology together in ways that empower communities. “We’re San Diego’s first makers place. We’re a community maker lab so obviously that means that there are a lot of machines and tools here that are accessible to the public but it also means that we are building a community of people here who want to share ideas and who also need support in creating their ideas.”

With a background in digital media and non profit education, Katie Rast became involved in community based education programs starting around 2001. In 2007, a group called The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT approached Katie and her business partner to host a Fab Lab, a production workshop and small-scale innovation hub equipped with digital fabrication machines and technologies for the production of objects, tools and electronics. “At that time we were one of a handful of labs around the world so we were part of a really new experiment aimed at getting technology into communities in a really radical way,” Katie reflects. “People would have the tools they needed to basically create whatever ideas they had in their head.”

From there, Katie took the toolset that’s available at the lab and never looked back. “It was so powerful to see both young people and adults go thru a rapid process related to ideation, design and then fabrication where they would be essentially conceptualizing and then holding their idea in their hand by the end of the day.” Katie recognized the multitude of benefits this project produced right away. “We saw that it would relate to economic development and job creation, skill development, and it would also relate to educational prep. There was a lot of equity in access to advanced technology. It was really kind of an unusual experiment but something that I really believed could create some positive change in San Diego.”

For the past 8 years now, Katie Rast has been directing the lab and moving forward step by step with an amazing volunteer team. “They believe in the same thing that i do… this idea of the maker movement and hands on learning and support for startups and entrepreneurs - something that can really create a positive impact here in San Diego.” With only three official staff members, Allen McAfee, Joy Decena, and herself, Katie stresses the importance of the lab’s volunteers or what they call a “geek in residence.” “These are people that are doing really cool and interesting stuff and are making it happen, we support them and they support the lab back.”

Learn more about FabLab at www.fablabsd.org

Photos and article by Carly Ealey

Art independently curated by Chris Konecki. For more information on art in Makers Quarter™ contact: art@makersquarter.com