Association to pave way for greater makerspace movement

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE makerspace leaders in Malaysia will soon come together under the Digital Maker Association (DMA), a private sector initiative to spur science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy in the country.

Supported by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry, the presence of DMA will enable makerspaces across the country in universities, schools and shopping malls to be connected with one another.

CEO of Me.reka Makerspace Gurpreet Singh said DMA will be the association made up of makerspace pioneers including Me.reka that connects creative hubs across Malaysia.

“DMA is a private sector initiative, and it will be launched on Sept 15, during the #MyDigitalMaker Movement Fair.

“It has been long planned and as an initiative, it will be supported by both MDEC and the Communications and Multimedia Ministry,” Gurpreet told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

MDEC launched the #mydigitalmaker movement in 2016 and the initiative includes the plan to incorporate computational skills into the curriculum and establish digital maker hubs around the country.

Spearheaded by Me.reka itself, Gurpreet believes DMA is a timely consolidated approach to connect all creative hubs locally.

Simply put, the maker movement around the world has been proven to be extremely important to tech start-up ecosystems and central to the growth of the maker movement is the makerspace centres that allow makers to innovate and create futuristic solutions for today’s problems.

Other makerspace players in the country are — KakiDIY that has myMaker IOT Lab for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, as well as running the MakerLAB makerspace located within The School at Jaya One; Fab Space KL that has its space in Lot 10 Shopping Centre; Chumbaka with a space at Cyberjaya — and few others.

For Me.reka, it is bringing together the industry, academicians and entrepreneurial communities.

“Our mission is to maximise the potential of society in solving social, environmental and economic challenges through 21st-century education,” he said.

Fully equipped with a wood and metal workshop, electronic lab, textile studio, design studio, virtual reality facilities, co-working space and a cafe, Gurpreet said the reach of Me.reka goes beyond its physical makerspace.

“This lack of engagement and hands-on learning has triggered concerns about the effectiveness of education. Thus, if the country is to make headway in Industry 4.0 and become a developed nation, students will have to be equipped for the jobs of the future. This means being well-versed in STEM as well as being entrepreneurial enough to build products using cutting-edge technologies,” he added.

Besides having to work together with other makerspace players in the country, Gurpreet sees a strong urgency to collaborate with the government to fully utilise existing resources that can unlock maximum potentials locally.

“Me.reka wants to collaborate with the government to make full use of spaces like Technology Park Malaysia, Standard Research and Institute Malaysia’s Machine Development Centre and its multiple other centres, as well as all polytechnics in Malaysia that has the tools capabilities.

“We are trying to unlock all these spaces, because while there are people who are in need of those spaces to create or even use equipment, many available ones still go underutilised,” said Gurpreet.