Syracuse Innovators Guild brings global hackerspace trend to CNY

That's important for an organization that is fueled by donations of scrap and spare parts.

"Everything here is donated by members, it's a completely member-driven organization," Morsi said.

And "everything" includes everything from furniture, a collection of computer towers to a box labeled "robot guts.

"Nerds are packrats," added Jeff Mahon, an electrical engineer and secretary of SIG.

The existing membership may be heavy on the engineering side ("I can't lie, there are quite a few techies," Morsi said), but SIG is really open to all backgrounds and skill sets.

Artists, entrepreneurs and library staffers have also attended open houses and other events at SIG, Morsi said.

The broader the range of backgrounds, interests and skills that make up the membership the more opportunities members will have to learn from one another, and that's what SIG is all about.

"Community and collaboration," Morsi said.

The group is especially interested in tapping into the student community in Syracuse. Some students have already taken advantage of SIG, like Mark Scrano, a student at ITT Tech in Liverpool. But to attract more, the monthly dues of $50 are reduced to $25 for students.

"We'd love to have more artists and musicians, too," Morsi said.

One of the biggest appeals of hackerspaces, SIG included, is how they tie into the growing DIY movement. Sites like Instructables.com and Hackaday.com offer step-by-step instructions on using deconstructed objects or simple materials to create functional things.

Learning skills from another human being - instead of the Internet - has its advantages.

"Google is great, but at some point it's awesome just to go to a person and be like, 'I don't know anything about web programming, can you just help me out?'" Mahon said.

Mahon pointed to "the beginnings of a movement" of people knowing how to fix things, in contrast with the disposable society of the last 20 to 30 years as another driver to the hackerspace popularity.

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