In addition to sports projects, there is a growing number of cultural and technology projects carried out as part of Sii Poland’s Passion Sponsorship Program. In the current edition, among the latter are workshops on electronics and radio connectivity, conducted at Hackerspace Cracow by an engineer from Sii. Bartłomiej Drozd, Software Engineer from Sii Cracow, explained what Hackerspace is and told us more about the aim of technology education.
You have been working at the Cracow branch for over 2 years. Is your passion related to your professional role?
Bartłomiej Drozd, Software Engineer: At Sii, I’m working on the 5G project and, more specifically, virtualization of the physical infrastructure of mobile operators. The work is really interesting as we often don’t have ready solutions, which encourages creative thinking – you simply have to come up with these solutions. There is also no need to use an outdated code. Everything is new and fresh.
But work isn’t enough. I have to admit, half-jokingly, that I’m a bit of a nerd – a person whose natural habitat is their basement. 😊 I love exploring technology: both at work and after hours. And at Hackerspace Cracow, I get a chance to meet people like me, including many fellows.
How did your Hackerspace adventure begin?
B.D.: You can think of Hackerspace as an idea and mission, but its beginnings were very pragmatic. At the age of 17 – that’s when I first came here – you aren’t able to create a space for joint learning or developing your interests. Let’s be real – not everyone has room for a welder, a workshop or even a projector at home. The search for such space led me to Hackerspace, which with time helped me discover many new interests.
What can you do at Hackerspace?
B.D.: Basically everything – as long as you don’t hurt anybody. 😊 Hackerspace includes two spaces: a room with all kinds of tools and an office room with tables, high-speed internet and a projector. By tools, I mean everything, from a hammer, a table saw and a welder to a nut or a screw of any kind, a 3D printer and a laser cutter. You can do anything here – no matter whether you want to build a bird feeder, create your drone and a remote control car, or simply need to fix your bike and you don’t have that one key you need at home.
You can also come and create virtual things, either by yourself or with someone. HS is basically a coworking space. However, the people who come here – usually passionate enthusiasts and experts in their fields – are of the greatest value. With them, you can carry out much more interesting and larger projects than you would on your own.
As part of the 5th edition of the Passion Sponsorship Program, you received funding for conducting workshops on electronics and radio connectivity. You develop your passion for technology and share it with others. What have the workshops been like?
B.D.: Many of us at HS, including myself, have their mission and ambition to teach others, at the same time having fun. Electronics and radio connectivity workshops are a great example.
It is amazing that Sii Poland supported the project financially as thanks to this it is easier for us to spread knowledge for a symbolic fee and change the world for the better through digital education. It may sound naive to some, but I really believe in it and care about it. At Hackerspace, there are other technology buffs having the same mission.
Thanks to Sii’s Passion Sponsorship Program, we were able to organize 8 electronics workshops at Hackerspace. Among the audience were both teenagers and heads of families. They all had one thing in common: when they first came, they didn’t really know what electronics was, and after 2 months everyone was able to design and build a simple circuit. We got great feedback, which gives us satisfaction! One person wrote that he or she understood more about electronics after two evenings than after a whole semester at university. 😊 I think it’s because our classes are primarily based on practice – that’s what we focus on.
Due to the pandemic, a series of radio connectivity workshops were cancelled. What is happening at Hackerspace at this difficult time?
B.D.: The pandemic turned the world upside down. Most of us agreed that this was the right time to do something good and useful. Using the potential of our workshop space and engaging people, we delivered 10 000 Plexiglas protective visors to hospitals and other places. During the first days, there was a huge demand from all institutions, and thanks to process improvements and technology change at the beginning of the project (the initial idea was 3D printing) we were able to reach those in need. It was an amazing project on a large scale, with great energy. Groups of enthusiasts from other cities joined us − we cooperated with Hackerspace Warsaw, among others.
We hope that all restrictions and precautions will be lifted soon and it will be possible to organize the workshops again. What will the second series be about?
B.D.: The next workshops will be devoted to radio connectivity. Again, this will be a series of 8 meetings, after which a novice will be able to operate the radio and pass the amateur radio license exam. If the pandemic situation and season allow, the course will end with a practical test of skills on top of a high mountain. After the course, each participant will get a chance to legally buy their own radio frequency for exclusive use.
How would you like to develop your passion?
B.D.: The development of my passion equals the development of this place, and this place are primarily people. For HS, nothing is more valuable than a growing number of active members of our community. That is why I will continue encouraging new people to visit us. Workshops or other organized events are a great occasion. We invite enthusiasts and families with kids, to whom we also want to show how fun technology can be. If anyone just wants to break away from their everyday life or find a new place to develop their interests or crazy ideas, we invite you cordially!
Sii Poland supports the passion for technology and promotes technology education. The Passion Sponsorship Program grant for Bartek Drozd and his workshops at Hackerspace Cracow is not the first such initiative. As a result of the project carried out by Bartłomiej Pytko, an engineer from Sii Wroclaw and co-founder of the Hackerspace Wroclaw Association, during the 2017 edition of the Program, the company became a partner of the Lower Silesian workshop.
Read more about other projects carried out as part of the Passion Sponsorship Program which supports the development of the personal interests of Sii workers.