published on December 22, 2017 - 6:30 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Chief Operations Officer
Root Access Hackerspace

Education: Associate’s degree in psychology
Age: 29
Family: My mother lives in Fresno, my father lives in Iowa

What is Root Access Hackerspace?

We are a collaborative work-space and learning environment. By creating an open source center, we help people in the tech industry and the tech curious connect.

What kind of people does Root Access aim to attract?

Everyone who has wanted to learn about tech — from someone who’s looking to boost their skills at work or just wants to make something fun out of electronics, like a mini arcade.

Where did you and co-founder Derek Payton get the idea for your hackerspace?

Hackerspaces have been around for about 6 years now. and both of us have desperately wanted a space in Fresno. When the Hashtag opened, we talked about having a vending machine to sell electronic components and within a couple months we were opening our doors to the public.

When people hear the word “hacker,” it’s usually in a negative light. How does Root Access work to change that?

We work very hard to associate “hackers” with the true meaning of the term-by hosting meetups to share knowledge about microcontrollers, workshops to teach soldering, and reaching out to help our community. People who use computers in a criminal way are called “crackers,” and stealing/damaging information is not our goal.

Would you say that the tech community in the Central Valley has experienced any significant growth lately?

In the past few years we’ve been host to more hackathons (e.g. 59DaysOfCode and the Fresno State Hackathon), great conferences (Google Development Group Fresno’s Valley Devfest and the Women Techmakers Conference), and new coworking spaces (Hashtag, Workspace, Commonspace, and Herspace). These are all things I’ve seen in the Bay Area, finally in the San Joaquin.

What are your plans for the future?

Our goal is to have the space open 24/7, run classes every week, and highlight the experiments people come up with in the Valley. One of the big goals is building an arena for Robot Fight Club, our robotics hobby group.

What are your roots in the Central Valley?

I was born in Selma and grew up in Fresno. Going to Computech for middle school, and then Edison for high school, I always had an interest in computers. Personally, I want our young people to have more opportunities than ever.

What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?

Archery director for the Boy Scouts of America. I learned a lot about teaching and talking to groups of people. Teenage boys rarely cut you slack. It also taught me about community and giving back.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, blacksmithing, and swing dancing with my girlfriend at Fresno Swing Dance.

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