A strong show of support from the community has spurred a group developing a Makerspace in McPherson to take steps toward becoming a formal organization.

MacMakers’ mission is to provide the networking and resources needed to teach people hands-on skills such as woodworking, quilting and programming.

Dave O’Reilly, one of the organizers of MacMakers, said he was one of nearly 30 people who attended to the July 10 kick-off meeting.

“McPherson is somewhat unique in that we have a strong industrial base. There seems to be a lot of interest for a community our size,” O’Reilly said.

Several of the group’s organizers met with the leaders of Make Harvey, a similar group based out of Newton, and toured the MakeICT facility in Wichita to ask questions and get ideas about how best to set up MacMakers.

O’Reilly, who is a mechanical engineer at AGCO, first read about maker groups and spaces in Popular Mechanics articles.

“I thought, ‘man, that’s pretty cool. That sounds like a great retirement job,’” O’Reilly said. “...I really love mentoring young folks.”

He sees MacMakers as a way for people to share their knowledge and skills. McPherson’s own Makerspace could offer instruction in ceramics, jewelry making, fabric arts or, one of O’Reilly’s own passions — machining, 3D printing, or working with a mill or lathe.

“I’ve been making stuff my whole life and it seems like a natural fit. I like to help people; I like teaching, volunteering and it just struck a note with me,” O’Reilly said.

MacMakers will aim to give both adults and children a chance to learn by doing.

“You can expose kids to fun stuff to get them thinking,” O’Reilly said. “Too often, kids get hooked into video games and computers and it’s very one-sided ... it’s not the same as learning how to build a kite and then flying the kite.”

Learning how objects are made and how they work can be valuable to those looking for technical jobs or wanting to save money by building or repairing things.

“Computers and smart phones, they’re a way to while away the time...you’re not going to learn anything from them,” O’Reilly said.

MacMakers will hold its first maker meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at The Well, 101 N. Main St. in McPherson. There will be a demonstration of 3D printing and a discussion about the group’s organization.

Members will also talk about the possibilities for a location — either buying or leasing a space for a community innovation center to hold classes and demonstrations.

“Ultimately, we want it to be open to the community and we want it to be affordable,” O’Reilly said. “We want to invite in the schools, colleges, industry — we want it to be a training site and resource for industry and we want to expose kids to everything ... we want to introduce them to a new form of play.”

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.