One local craftsman is dedicated to fueling middle-skilled careers throughout Texas with the establishment of a new makerspace.

Tim Winkelman has over 30 years of experience in the tool-and-die field and is also a high-level CNC programmer. His profession has also become quite the lifestyle, as he creates small gadgets and objects for sale. He will now utilize that same passion for creativity to launch a local makerspace — the Waxahachie Innovation Center.

As he described the project, Winkelman showcased a bottle opener keychain he customized for Railport Brewing Company, explaining the innovation center would allow local entrepreneurs a chance to manufacture their goods in the right amount of bulk.

“There are people out there with great ideas that have no idea how to get it done," Winkelman said. "Well, I don’t necessarily have all the great ideas, but I know how to get it done and make these things happen.”

The purpose of the innovation center would be to help small business owners with the production of merchandises and provide a platform for professionals to host workshops and seminars on a variety of projects and trades. Most importantly for Winkelman, the center would provide perspective on middle-skilled careers to children and teens.

“The state of manufacturing is devastated,” Winkelman said, eventually mentioning the hard push for college has negatively affected trade careers.

Winkelman envisions field trips taking place at the center to demonstrate how objects are made and the variety of professions available.

Winkelman is passionate about the field because “it’s dying and necessary in our country. People don’t realize, what you sit on, what you eat off of, what you brush your teeth with — all of this is created by somebody.”

According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the most significant part of the labor market across the United States and even Texas. Coalition studies found “key industries in Texas are unable to find enough sufficiently-trained workers to fill these jobs.”

The coalition reported Texas is in high demand for middle-skilled jobs. In 2015, the need for middle-skilled employment in Texas was at 56 percent, while low-skilled jobs comprised 16 percent and the highly-skilled workforce accounted for 29 percent of jobs.

The coalition additionally reported the demand for middle-skilled jobs would remain strong in Texas, estimating 50 percent of job openings would be middle-skilled between 2014—2024.

Waxahachie High School CTE director Mark Bosher agreed that a makerspace facility would benefit the community from an instructional viewpoint.

"An innovation center could serve as an invaluable aid to promote trades and industry in our community," Bosher said. "From an educational standpoint, learning by doing has withstood the test of time for helping students succeed. A makerspace, with industrial equipment and real-world applications, sounds exciting."

Winkelman is currently finalizing the nonprofit tax-identification number through the IRS and is in the process of establishing a board to help create the center. So far, his oldest son, who is a foreman at Cline Tools in Mansfield, has been selected.

He noted an interest in the craft of making and a passion for educating the community are vital characteristics for any potential board member.

“I’m looking for community-minded people,” Winkelman stressed.

If interested in aid of the creation of the Waxahachie Innovation Center, contact Winkelman on his cell at 214-864-1385, or email to timothy.winkelman@yahoo.com. A GoFundMe account was also created to help start up the nonprofit and can be accessed here: https://www.gofundme.com/waxhachie-innovation-center.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450