In recent years, the Triangle startup scene has seen a shift towards DIY, community-built innovation, a trend that is well-represented through a new trend in “hackerspaces.”

This story is the first in a series that will explore both the meaning of the term, as well as the organizations that are bringing it to life in and outside of the Triangle. 
Tucked in downtown Durham’s startup district is a space that fosters what can only be described as kaleidoscopic collaboration between innovators of all kinds.
At Splat Space, “geeking out” is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. And it holds a broad definition that fits all of its members, whether they’re artists, musicians, biotechnologists, engineers or even educators—all are welcome.
The organization was founded six years ago, dubbed “Durham Makerspace.” As membership grew from just a small handful of innovators to a larger, more diverse mix of professionals and creators, the name was changed to “Splat Space,” which implies a somewhat upcycled, “do what you want” mentality.
This concept is representative of a larger effort to reclaim the term “hacker.” The goal is to redirect the label away from its often misunderstood criminal reputation toward an association with innovation.
Splat Space defines the term as “people who are interested in learning all they can about the fields that interest them, explore the bounds of those interests and create new and interesting ways to apply that knowledge.”
And hackerspaces, both national and local, offer a professional home to those people. They can be registered on an informal network called There are currently 1,312 worldwide active hackerspaces listed on the site, as well as 354 spaces marked as “planned.”
The movement is grassroots in nature, evolving out of online forums, chat platforms and resource wikis. Offline, physical hacker/makerspaces provide the necessities members require to launch projects. 
Splat Space in particular offers a range of tools to its members—anything from drills, saws and laser cutters to 3D printers, generators, and vinyl cutters. Full members have 24/7 access to the space, and free and discounted entrance into workshops and classes.
There’s a whole section of projects related to creating new avenues for unconventional time and temperature display, including a POV propellor clock made using old hard drives and a cuckoo clock out of laser-cut wood gears and accents.
Members like Ben Trask use the space’s workbenches to bring computers to life. The local C programmer has been a part of Splat Space for years, working on projects mainly centered around writing open-source distributed databases, web servers and content-addressing systems.
“[At Splat Space], I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of topics outside of my normal comfort zone, from electrical engineering to biology,” he says.
As for the future, Terwilliger says the organization hopes to further broaden and diversify the now 50-member network. 
“It’s a place where anyone can drop by with a problem they’re looking to solve,” he adds. “I don’t know of any other environment where they can make something exist or make something new, and there’s such a high chance to make that happen.”
The space pulses within undeniable energy and opportunity—allowing members limitless access not only to tools to make things happen, but also to a community of creators just as passionate about bringing ideas to fruition.