Each week, as we get to know our community and the broader IoT movement, we’re fortunate to connect with some remarkable individuals and organizations. In our “Makerspace Profile” series, we interview makerspace founders to learn more about the maker movement around the world.
In this profile, you’ll meet Cairo HackerSpace based in Cairo, Egypt.
How did HackerSpace start?
Cairo Hackerspace start in September 2009 as a “virtual hackerspace.” I was searching for some solution for an arduino issue I had in my graduation project and one day I found a video for a place called “Tokyo hackerspace”, the name attracted me but I didn’t know exactly what is a hackerspace , while I was watching the video and learning about the hackerspaces world, I had a weird feeling, I was saying to my self “I knew it, It is real” , “thats what I want to do the rest of my life.” I was saying that because a couple of months before I saw the video I was imagining a place just like it.
I started to search for a hackerspace in Egypt or nearby countries with no luck, so I decided to start one. I told my friends the video and we decided to start [something similar] but we didn’t have a place, then we had a new idea about starting in the virtual world. A Virtual Hackerspace, we schedule online, meet, and hack on the cafe shops and share what we do with rest of the world online.
Note: We have at least two cafe shops in every street in Egypt.
2011 we had our first real hackerspace then went virtual again then shared a place with “Fab Lab Egypt” then virtual again and finally found our current place in downtown Cairo.
What was the initial response to HackerSpace like?
“Can you hack a Facebook account!?” I will answer this question by explaining the idea behind our name. The name is very basic “Cairo Hackerspace” but we could also made a cooler name like “noisbridge , nycresistor, cbase, etc. We intended to put the word “HackerSpace” because we are starting the first hackerspace in Egypt, so we have taken the responsibility of teaching people the true meaning of the word “Hacker” and as the first hackerspace we will be an example of what the hackerspace looks like and who the hackers are.
The best question are about “Facebook or email hacking” because I correct the wrong information that people have from misleading media or assumptions. Some people end up forgetting about their question and become more interested in the hackerspace which makes me happy.
What kind of equipment and resources do you provide participants?
We have three kinds for memberships, full membership, undergraduate and school student. All of them can attend one workshop every month for free and one course every six months for free. All kinds of memberships have access to all equipment , machines, tools and the co-working space without any extra charge. We have a 3d printer, all basic and intermediate electronics tools and components, almost all the hand tools, metals welding tools, basic carpentering tools. We are non-profit and most of the budget is spent on the members needs. Right now we have the equipment that the current members need.
What projects are people working on?
We have now a group of undergraduate engineers sponsored by “Cairo Hackerspace” working on their graduation project, they are making an enterprise solution, some kind of a new virtual meeting solution using virtual reality and augmented reality.
There is an architect and software engineer working on a new way to sell architecture designs through google cardboard VR headset.
One of the members is a graphic designer from Netherlands working on an encyclopedia and how-to website that document the Egyptian street hacking and the solutions that people invent so they don’t have to buy everything.
I am working on a wireless laptop/PC mouse that you will never ever need to recharge or change the battery again , I am almost finished testing, the next step is Kickstarter! Wish me luck!
An entrepreneur is making modifications and new packaging to his new device before putting it on Kickstarter.
What are your future plans?
I am a freelance software engineer/embedded systems engineer and I am professional stunt-man at the “International Stunt Team.” I spend most of my time at the hackerspace or practicing Parkour.
So actually, I don’t plan for the future, I only chose a path and go for it whether it is a stupid stunt or building a coffee machine that doesn’t make coffee but tweets very well.
After I saw the “tokyo hackerspace” video and started Cairo Hackerspace, I waited for the surprises and they were astonishing, I could never planned like that. If you plan right and every thing happened as expected, well its boring, “expected” you know? And if it doesn’t? You might be sad and that’s just sad. Just enjoy your life and don’t give things more than they need.
What does “hacking” mean to you and your community?
For me, “parkour” and “hacking” have the same meaning, A creative and unusual way to solve problems or make life better. I guess it is the same for the community. I believe that everyone has his own definition. For me, it just like “parkour.”