Become a PI

So you are interested in becoming a Prototyping Instructor? Well here is what you will get once you complete this journey:

  • 24/7 access to the Flowers Invention Studio!
  • Funding for personal projects through Maker Grants
  • Learn and hone a large number of technical skills

In exchange for these benefits, you help staff the space for 3 hours a week. During these hours you get to help the users of the space create their dream projects by assisting them with tool operation and best practices. The Flowers Invention Studio could not operate without our wonderful PIs, and we hope you will join us! Read on to learn the steps of the process.

To become a PI, you have to prove that you know how to safely and confidently operate the tools and equipment that we use every day. We use our skills checklist as a way to keep track of your experience on our tools. Don't get too intimidated if you don't know the terminology in this checklist yet, we are here to teach you how to use these tools!

Download the skills checklist!

While you work through the checklist you will interact with some files. Here they are if you need them.

At the Invention Studio, we're all about learning. Regardless of your experience level in other shops, it's useful to ask the PIs on duty how to use equipment on the checklist. You'll learn a lot about how we run the studio, and about any safety policies that we count on future PIs to know and enforce. Just approach any PI wearing a yellow armband, mention that you are working on your checklist, and ask for training!

We now have a series of online training videos that will give you a base familiarity with the tools before you come to the studio. Check them out here!

Now that you know the basics of operating our tools and equipment, it's time to demonstrate what all you've picked up! When you are ready to show us your skills, let the PI on duty know that you'll be doing the checklist. If you can make the test part correctly and safely, the PI will sign off on your checklist. If you don't quite get it, the PI will retrain you and invite you to retry the test the next day. Some tests build upon parts produced in other tests, so check with this flow chart to make sure you don't try to do them out of order!

Once you finish your checklist, we'll schedule an interview with you to see if you have the soft skills and character traits we see in some of our most successful PIs. This interview usually lasts about 30 minutes, and you'll be speaking to current PIs about why you are interested in the space and what you think you'll bring to the table. Please don't stress about this! It feels more like a conversation with your peers than a job interview.

After a successful interview, you are elevated to the status of Provisional PI. During your time as a Provisional PI, you shadow full PIs, which gives you an opportunity to learn more about the space and how you can best help users.

We provide a Provisional Checklist that lists many of the tools that the Flowers Invention Studio has that go beyond the requirements of the first checklist. You should strive to learn how to use as many of these as possible to increase your effectiveness once you become a full PI, but you don't need to learn them all. You will also be gaining confidence in how to properly staff a room at the Flowers Invention Studio in a way that keeps everyone safe and successful.

This shadowing period lasts a month, after which point you will blossom out of your Provisional cocoon into the the full PI butterfly that you are inside!

This final interview consists of a series of mini-tests on the more advanced tools of the studio. You don't have to make specific parts, but rather just demonstrate your understanding of how to use the tools safely and effectively. Being a PI isn't just about understanding tools though, you should also be prepared to think outside the box! Often users come into the studio with just a vision of a finished product, and you need to understand the capabilities of the space well enough to direct them to the right series of tools to make their dream into a reality.