The Geek Group
The Geek Group's Logo
|Headquarters||Leonard Street Labs|
|Chairman of the Board||Paul Kidwell|
|Vice Chair||Chris Boden|
|Executive Director||Lis "Moose" Bokt|
|Key people||Megan Smith
|Main organ||Board of Directors|
|Slogan||We Build Awesome|
The Geek Group is a not-for-profit educational organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan with over 6,000 members around the world. Their major aim is to provide access to science, technology, engineering and math by developing programming and facilities for individuals and institutions to learn, explore, innovate and play at an independent pace according to their needs. The group opened to the public on the 1st January 2014.
The Geek Group started up in 1994 at the Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan as a group of friends experimenting with university surplus equipment such as old computer parts. They grew over a few years into a small company, which they named The Geek Group and became a federally certified 501(c)(3) non-profit company. The Geek Group was forced to abandon its Kalamazoo, Michigan headquarters and facilities when Kalamazoo County, Michigan auctioned off its facilities after The Geek Group refused to pay property taxes. The group still owes Kalamazoo Township several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Geek Group is sponsored by many companies, the majority of them small businesses local to the Group, but also some larger companies such as Haas Automation, Iscar and Rustoleum. The Group supplements this donation income by charging for some R&D services.
Grand Rapids Location
The Group moved to Grand Rapids in December 2010. The new 'Galactic Headquarters' of The Geek Group is a 43,000 square foot facility situated on Leonard Street NW. The huge building was originally a YMCA and more recently, a place of religious worship. Local members have spent the past several years since the initial move in undertaking substantial remodelling and building repairs in order to meet the required codes to open to the public.
The group has had a very popular YouTube channel since 2006 with over 20,000 subscribers and nearly 500 videos. Regular video series include 'Equipment Autopsy' where various items of tech or household gadgets are taken apart with a view to educate the viewer on 'how stuff works'. 'Will It Fry' is a series of videos that investigate how certain day-to-day objects will stand up to extreme high voltage or extreme heat. The videos gain a lot of views from around the world, and they are also often used in the classroom as a teaching aid.
On January 2, 2014, a fire partially destroyed the group's High Voltage Lab, and deposited soot all over the lab. A grub screw on a Tesla coil rotary spark gap was not tight enough, resulting in a tungsten electrode which it was holding to move out of its socket and strike one of the stationary electrodes. This resulted in a chain reaction with bits of molten tungsten being flung from the spark gap unit, which then caused a nearby capacitor array to catch fire and subsequently melt. From preliminary analysis, Project Gemini (a 200,000 watt Tesla Coil demonstration) looks to be completely destroyed, and Project Thumper (a high impulse generator) was severely damaged. The fire was so hot it melted porcelain insulators, and aluminum racks. Although no one had been hurt, the building was closed to the public once again for repairs.[not in citation given]
- Radigan, Mary (17 January 2011). "Geek Group is renovating former West YMCA as new headquarters". mlive.com.
- Dwyer, Dustin (1 February 2010). "Geek's Dream Lab Could Create Jobs in Michigan". NPR.
- "After fire assessment at The Geek Group (Part 2)". tmbomber383. January 5, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
- "Fire At The Geek Group". Hack A Day. January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- "Fire damages Geek Group in Grand Rapids". WZZM13. January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- "Captain's Blog 1 3 2014 Cleanup Begins". physicsduck. January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2014.