February 21, 2024

Gene Sherman, CEO of Vocademy:vthe Makerspace, created a space in Riverside where failure is not punished, it is a lesson. There is no grading system; if the creator of the project is happy with the outcome, then the project is a success.

Open to anyone 14 years and older, the Makerspace is an office- type environment including more than 15,000 square feet of workspace as well as state-of-the-art industrial arts tools.

The spaces provided include a collaboration area, electronics lab, fabrication area, 3-D printing area, welding area and more.

Vocademy is where people from different backgrounds, races, places in life and education levels can come together to learn hands-on skills.

“Anyone walks into Vocademy and we’re all equals. The only difference between you and me is the amount of experience I have. It’s not talent. It’s skill,” Sherman said. “The difference between talent and skill is talent is something you’re born with. Skill just takes learning. School makes you identical to everyone else but your talent makes you an individual.”

Sherman immigrated to the United States at 7 years old. From an early age, he discovered his love for creation and working with his hands.

After working in manufacturing for 30 years, he wanted to give back to the community, but because he did not have a teaching certificate, he was not able to teach workshop skills in a classroom.

“For thousands of years, humans taught other humans not because they had a piece of paper, but because they had a skill,” Sherman said.

Sherman said that how he came up with the idea to create the Makerspace – a place where the community could learn valuable skills and trades. Sherman said it has been thrivingvsince opening in 2013.

“Schools tell you what to learn, schools tell you when to learn, and schools tell you how much to learn. I couldn’t stand all three of these things. I’m going to let the student decide,” Sherman said.

Sherman said he wanted to create this opportunity for two reasons: To bring back shop classes to the United States and to solve two problems prevalent today. First, to help young adults who are lost, unknowing of what they want to do for a living and the second, to give the manufacturing industry capable makers.

“I want to give people skills and make them valuable to the people that would hire them,” Sherman said.

There are multiple optionsto attend Vocademy. One could sign of up for a single class starting at $105 for three hours, or a monthly membership starting at three months for $99. Memberships can include family plans, military and student discounts. Becoming a member at Vocademy includes access hours to the facility as well as the ability to attend various classes offered at the Makerspace.

Sherman said he plans to expand Vocademy in the near future.

The Makerspace is currently only located in Riverside but Sherman said he is actively looking for a second location as well as industry, educational and corporate partners.

For more information visit www.vocademy.com.

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