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Ace Monster Toys: A home for hackers and makers

on September 11, 2016

On the second floor of an Oakland building near the crossroads of Market Street and Stanford Avenue is a room teeming with possibility. Colored bins of electronic components and half-finished projects line the walls, while community table areas are filled with people contemplating the next step in making their home-brewed project or startup ambition a reality.

Ace Monster Toys, better known as AMT, leaves its door open to hackers, makers and anyone looking to further their ability to create new things. The nonprofit offers classes and member access to tools for woodworking, 3D printing, metal crafting, textiles, laser cutting and more.

“The big shiny laser sucked me in,” says Rachel Sadd, president of AMT. She joined four years ago after a friend convinced her to visit and test out the organization’s industrial quality laser cutter. “I saw the potential of this tool,” she said. In addition to her work as an e-business consultant, Sadd now manages daily operations at AMT. “Basically, I hack the hackerspace,” she said.

Sadd described how AMT was founded in 2010 by a small group of tech-centric creatives who were tired of traveling to San Francisco from their East Bay homes for a shared workspace with the tools they needed and a supportive community. They dreamed up a place that did not center only on hardware, code, or artistic projects, but was all encompassing—a hackerspace where people could share their diverse skills and cultivate an open, trusting environment.

Six years later, AMT is home to over 100 members, serves more than 500 through classes and workshops and claims a following of over 2,000 on the popular social website Members hail from many backgrounds and include everyone from hobbyists to those developing products for their own entrepreneurial ambitions.

Sadd, known by the nickname “Crafty” to those at AMT, gets visibly excited when talking about member projects. Members are making everything from the in-office vending machine for specialized parts and supplies to a smart beer keg cooler, battle robots and crafty laser-cut stuffed pumpkins. “When people do things around here, they’re into it,” she said.

AMT is run almost completely by a volunteer workforce responsible for teaching classes, maintaining the equipment and facility resulting in a community of people who want to participate. “We work pretty hard to foster and appreciate volunteers,” Sadd said.

AMT members want it to keep growing, and are looking to expand the member base by 20 percent and add programs in software, workshop and robotics. “We would like to level up our game,” said Sadd.



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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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