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Creating A New Department

From time to time a particular set of interests that a group of members have warrants that interest becoming its own department. At one time the space was just a few departments like the wood shop, machine shop, and the laser room but over time we have added and dropped departments as our community evolves and interests change. The goal of this guide is to layout guidelines and expectations for when a specific group of interests or activities should endeavor to become a department and what the process for doing so is.

What Is The Point Of A Department?

Before we get too far into things it is important to have context on why we have shop departments in the first place so you can get an understanding of why your interest group may want to form a new one.

Twin Cities Maker has departments for a number of reasons, the first of which is organization an leadership. When a lot of people start showing interest in a specific set of tools or activities it is often important to have a person or persons in charge of making sure people are properly trained on those tools and that things are staying maintained.

The next reason is budgetary, each shop department gets a budget that can be used to help maintain the tools and better provide the service of those tools to other members.

When Should Something Be A New Department?

Any type of making can be a department if there is enough interest from members to warrant it. There are lines that you should consider for when it is appropriate for the tool and its management to remain in a closely aligned department vs. splitting off into it's own, though.

A discipline should consider petitioning to become a department when:

  • There are a significant number of people interested in perusing this specific discipline
    • This can vary depending on the extensiveness of the particular department and the space needed but a good rule of thumb is members numbering in the 10s at least.
  • The discipline that the new department would cover is sufficiently different from any other department that currently exists OR the new department is a sufficiently specific subset of making that is currently covered by an existing department and there is a great amount of interest in significantly expanding that type of making
    • As an example of a new department that is something that did not exist you can look at the 3D Lab. That had not existed several years ago and a few members decided to pool to buy a printer and petition to start a new department
    • As an example of a department splitting off you can look at the CNC department. That used to be contained within the wood shop but as interest grew for CNC it split off into its own department
    • As an example of something new that came in that did not need to be its own department is model airbrushing. That, while it was specific and did have a number of members interested in it, did not really warrant its own department because it was small and fit within the mission of The Artifactory well

What Is Needed To Start A Department?

  • A mission statement. What need your proposed department intends to fill?
  • A show of interested members. How many people are interested and who are they?
  • One to three people who are proposed manager(s) of the new department
  • A list of needs. What do you need to get this department off the ground?
    • Related, how you intend to acquire those things. Is it a ask for just space? Do new tools need to be acquired? If so are you asking the board for funds or are tools going to be crowdfunded or donated?
  • How are you going to deal with training?
  • How are you going to deal with safety?

Example Proposal

This is what a proposal might look like for starting a new department for resin casting:

Mission Statement

Resin casting is something that is not currently well supported at the makerspace but, if expanded on, could be a real asset to the current members and bring in new members such as artists looking to do resin work and people looking to mold and cast small runs of parts.

Interested Members

Many members have expressed a desire for this department including the following members:

  • List of members who you have asked for permission to include in this proposal


Proposed Manager: Person McFakename Proposed Assistant Manager: Another Falsename


We currently have a few things we would need already around the shop that we can tap into like the central air compressor but we would also need:

  • A dedicated cart to have the equipment setup on, we propose this be stored in the Member Storage area by the side of the laser room ($100 for the cart)
  • A pressure pot (Person McFakename is willing to donate one)
  • A Vacuum chamber (we have parts of one around, we may need some small parts to finish it. Potentially $50 in requested funds here)


We will schedule monthly checkoff classes on the equipment via Eventbrite. The class should be around 30 minutes.


Resin can have some nasty fumes and pressure pots can be dangerous if over pressured so the class would focus heavily on safety and proper use. We will have an over pressure valve on the pressure pot so it cannot go over 30 PSI which is less than half of its rating so it will remain well below a dangerous level. We will also have a strict respirator required policy for usage of the department.

What To Do Once You Have Your Proposal Ready

Email [email protected] with your proposal or reach out to any of the Members of the Board of directors to chat about your proposal. Once you are ready we can put the proposal on the next board meeting agenda for discussion and potential approval.

What You Should Expect From The Approval Process

You should keep in mind that this is going to be a discussion and the job of the board is to help guide the direction of the space as a whole and to spend the funds we have wisely on what will benefit our members. The board will likely have a number of questions about specifics of the proposal to help determine if any modifications need to be made or if the proposal makes sense given the number of members interested and the cost associated with the proposal. Unfortunately we do have a fairly tight budget most of the time so we cannot always pursue every idea to the extent we would like but we always try to do as much as we can.

documentation/creating_a_new_department.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/07 18:08 by 2djoe