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Pier 9 is Disneyland for Makers Answered

The amount of resources this place has is impossible to describe. If you really want to learn all the equipment at Pier 9 it will probably take you 2 years to fully know how every machine works. People here love making things and it felt like home. For me making is not only the transformation of the object into the final piece but it's a transformation in me, how my emotions change as I build. I never felt more connected to my work as in Pier 9. It's been a few months since I finished my residency and to be honest every week I think of quitting my job and going back. It has been one of my most memorable experiences in the past couple of years and if you are thinking of applying, stop thinking and APPLY! (3 good friends: John, Xander and Wei are now AiR after I shared my experience with them)

I applied to be an AiR because I had a bunch of personal projects I wanted to make and had been really busy working at SRI designing really amazing robots to "save the world". Most of the projects I was working back at that time were kind of long and most of them involved DARPA funding (confidential- can't talk about). In contrast, I wanted to make shorter projects, just for fun. Pier 9 seemed like a perfect place. It is located over the water, you will be literally cutting wood on the table saw with the most amazing view of downtown SF. I live in Menlo Park so I would take the Caltrain and get of at King St. Then I would bike for 10 minutes along the Embarcadero. At night, I would bike facing the Bay Bridge Lights. Overall beautiful commute.

When I joined in November 2013, things were still being organized at the Pier. For example, making a reservation for a class was super easy and intuitive. a few months after that there was a more complicated process and it felt the classes were always full. The AiR lounge/office had white walls and no furniture so I decided to make a few projects to make our space a little nicer. I also made the AiR wallet to keep the credit card safe (we used to have a big clamp to store our credit card). One final addition, was the AiR roster that I pulled together to know all of the other AiR and have their contact info.

One of my objectives at the Pier was learning to do CNC. I started working with the ShopBot and learned to do 2.5 CNC fairly quickly. I enjoyed making CNC furniture for the Pier. I hope the Piggy Coffee table is still in the AiR lounge. After that I continued working with CNC and made a clock and a sunglass case. I wished the DMS 5 axis was running before I left the Pier so I could make my lounge chair from a tree trunk.

I do want to say sorry for all of the router bits I broke, all of the toxic materials I used and any other unethical things I've done!

I will miss Pier 9 but I what I will miss the most is the people. There were about 10-15 Artists in Residence at any given time. That meant that every week or two, a new talented artist was joining and another one was saying goodbye. The best part was that we all shared our work and got great comments and feedback from the rest of the group. The amount of creativity and diversity was unbelievable.

I have to make a special mention to my shop teacher and friend Sean. He has been a great companionnon several all nighters at the Pier. We would be doing some crazy amount of work in the evening and going to bed around 7 am. I would go and sleep for a long while but he always had to come back to the Pier and teach a class. Sean was responsible for teaching me some tricks on a couple of machines so thanks to him my time was more effective. Another thing I will miss is going to the woodshop and see Sam working on the next modification to the shop. He was always with a friendly smile giving us advice while he was finishing his project. I also would like to thank Taylor Stein and Arthur Harsuvanakit. Both work at Autodesk and they have tought me and a bunch of AiR how to use some of the Autodesk software. Last, another thanks to Randy Sarafan, he also was another late night worker and companion.

Thanks again to Noah and Vanessa for making my dreams come true.

Alejandro (alepalan)

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