Sarah Al Dossary tells us about the creative mobile and tech shop.
Who are the brains behind tekSPACY?
The dream for a makerspace started when I was working with KACST BADIR Program for Incubators where I was the only female member of the Advanced Manufacturing Incubator (AMI). Dr. Mohammed Al Majed was the Director of BADIR AMI at that stage and he had a profound effect in shaping my mind towards advanced manufacturing. Being the visionary that he is, and his passion for human capital development, he inspired me to make a career change from IT to practical advanced manufacturing. Last year I hooked up with Swiss specialist employability consultancy TeleTegniek Instituut GmbH to do a market research project on the concept in Saudi Arabia. We wanted to establish a facility similar to TechShop or FABLAB in the USA, but one customized for Saudi culture and conditions. Being female, we decided to start with a female tekSPACY. BADIR sponsored the first tekSPACY, and we launched last Nov. 27. It’s a dream come true.
What inspired you to open a manufacturing workshop for women?
With what’s called the “Maker Movement” going on around the world there’s a growing need to open the manufacturing sector to women and to develop ways to give all girls access to existing manufacturing facilities. Except for tekSPACY, there are no places for innovative women to convert their ideas into products and in creating it we can inspire many to become self-employed, or start small businesses that manufacture Saudi-made products.
In addition, many of the government initiatives to empower women to create their own businesses are challenged by lack of proper business models and training methods. For example, we are developing an innovative way to establish smart phone repairs. It provides needed technologies, necessary training, mentorship and market engagement while making use of the most advanced technologies in the world.
There are a number of manufacturing hubs in the region. What makes tekSPACY stand out?
This tekSPACY is solely for women and run by women. In addition, it’s connected to big manufacturing facilities such as Advanced Manufacturing Workshop at King Abdulaziz for Science and Technology. It’s also connected to a small innovative manufacturing company with larger machines where we can have products manufactured on larger scale. All is Saudi initiated, owned and managed. And we are already in discussions with large equipment suppliers like SIEMENS for next generation design and manufacturing technology. Such collaborations allow women to realize the most complicated designs.
What skill level should women who want to join in the workshop have?
They really only need to have passion to do something themselves, and a willingness to learn. Even if they only have an idea, other women design for them, and someone else manufactures. The fun is really in seeing how an idea can take shape.