ASU partners with TechShop to open site in Chandler - East Valley Tribune: Business

ASU partners with TechShop to open site in Chandler

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Posted: Monday, November 25, 2013 7:58 am

A California-based company has teamed up with Arizona State University to open a facility loaded with tools for aspiring entrepreneurs and local craftsmen.

The company, TechShop, opened up its newest shop at Arizona State University’s Chandler Innovation Center on Nov. 16 for students and members of the community.

“The City of Chandler has always been on the leading edge when it comes to supporting technology and innovation,” said Mayor Jay Tibshraeny in a press release. “This makes the city, and Downtown in particular, an ideal location for a makerspace like TechShop.”

For customers that means access to a plethora of high-tech tools that range from oscilloscopes and cold saws to laser cutters and 3D printers. The equipment encompasses the needs for automotive work, welding, wood working, arts and crafts, electronics and even sewing, among many other purposes.

It’s a toy land of sorts for people who like to build things by hand or are trying to take the first steps toward opening a business, which actually fits the reason founder Jim Newton started the business in the first place. The motivation, he said, was a bit selfish, as he wanted access to all of the tools required to complete complicated projects on his own.

But two problems became evident while he tried to create his own space: money and location. Much of the equipment people find in TechShop is rather expensive and out of many people’s price range — the tools at each location are valued at $1 million in all — and he said the people who can afford it might not have a large enough space to contain everything.

So Newton decided to create his own shop to provide people access to all of the tools they wouldn’t have access to otherwise and a large enough space to use them. To gain access to the equipment, people have to purchase a monthly membership akin to a gym membership to Anytime Fitness and other similar facilities.

One location in Menlo Park, Calif., in 2006 has since turned to seven in all in his home state, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and now Arizona.

“I didn’t intend to open up more locations,” he said.

Although the equipment found at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center is the same as the other locations, the partnership with ASU is the first time TechShop has partnered with a university to do so. Newtown provides full credit to ASU for getting the partnership going, and he said the university also understands how important it is to spark the entrepreneurial drive, in this case among the student body.

Plus, he said, the Chandler location is ideal given how technologically advanced the East Valley region has become. Even the laser cutters used at all of the locations are built in nearby Scottsdale.

“It seemed like a good fit for us,” he said.

The ASU Chandler Innovation Center is located at 249 E. Chicago St. For more information about TechShop, including hours and a full list of the equipment offered, visit techshop.com

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