Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Makerspace?

A Makerspace is a physical location supporting a collaborative environment and community. A maker's facility usually provides access to community tools and people with a wealth of knowledge. Given access to these resources, community members are able to learn and complete projects, which would otherwise be out of their capability.

What is Nova Labs?

NOVA Labs is a membership-driven, all-volunteer makerspace based in Reston, Virginia. We are not a service business which serves up making. Until you go to the Green Orientation (GO) training, things may not be easy to understand here. If you plan to be active here, ask questions ( and attend GO as soon as possible.

Read our vision and mission on the about page:


The front desk hours are:

Mondays–Friday from 5:30pm–8:30pm

Weekends from 1:00pm–4:00pm.

Are we open now?

When can I come in for a tour?

Free guided tours are offered each Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., except for holidays or inclement weather. You may also visit during our Open House on the 2nd Saturday of each month with tours from 2 to 4. The Open Houses include tool/project demos, an opportunity to meet the stewards, food, steward belly dancing, and a more detailed discussion of how the makerspace works. No reservations required. Allow one hour for the tour, but you may stay as our guest, talk to the makers, ask questions, and see our many tools in use. See our membership page, and event calendar for more information. Email if you have additional questions.

How can I participate?

Show your committment to our community and Nova Labs by participating! Here are some examples:

  • Come in for a tour of the space
  • Go to and register for an account. Use a name that is easy to distinguish or the same one as on Add a picture of yourself or something distinctive.
  • Join the Nova-Makers Meetup on
  • Attend a Green Orientation class (See the FAQ about this topic)
  • Join us on our email lists or slack group (discussed in Green Orientation class)
  • Get involved in our Groups and projects
  • Invite people to help you with a project
  • Volunteer to complete tasks listed on our task list
  • Donate or collocate needed equipment listed on our wish list
  • Sign up for a classes
  • Offer to teach a class
  • Support us financially with a monthly contribution
  • Email for more information regarding classes.

What is Green Orientation (GO!) class and how do I attend one?

One of our community rules is that regular participation in the community requires our Green Orientation class. This class is a prerequisite for independent/unsupervised access to any tool anywhere in the makerspace. However, we actually recommend you try at least one class or Open Office Hours before coming to GO. That way you know a bit about if you want to participate and make more things. Please see the class details for specific information about when you should take the GO class.

GO class discusses our code of conduct, safety policy, etiquette, and procedures. It is very important to helping spread our culture and expectations and is one of the important ways we make sure that people integrate into our community.

To find a Green Orientation session

  • Use your browser Find to search the calendar for the term "GO"
  • Sign up for a class that has space available (limited to 10-14 per class)
  • Class size is limited based on limited access and noise in some of the areas we visit and because increased numbers lengthen the class
  • If the class says "This Meetup is full", then that means it is full
  • There is one every other week or so, though they are not posted more than 2 weeks in advance or the previous class is full
  • if you are unable to find a class with open spaces, send a friendly email to and we'll put one up

What levels of membership are available?

For more information visit our Membership Policy document in our "Important Documents" wiki section

Our four (4) participation levels are:

  1. Guest (Free, supervised attendance only)
  2. Attendee ($20 day pass, has documented Green Orientation sign off, but is not a dues-paying member, may ONLY use the lab INDEPENDENTLY with tool sign-off and Day Pass)
  3. Associate Member ($50 per month, Shop door access when lab is open only, self-enrolling via website, should attend Green Orientation before self-enrolling, may obtain Key only after GO)
  4. Key Member ($100 per month, 24/7 access, must be sponsored in by a current key member)

To learn more or contact for membership related questions.

Do you have to be a member to use the tools or attend events?

No, non-member participant levels (Guest and Attendees) may use the tools for free ONLY under certain SUPERVISED conditions. (example: classes, open shop hours, as a guest of a key member) See the FAQ for "What levels of membership are available?" For more information on Guest and Attendee participation levels, see our Membership Policy in Important Documents.

How can I become a member?

Associate Member

  1. Attend Green Orientation
  2. Self-service enrollment via website My Account/Accounting page
  3. Pay $50 per month by entering credit card information and click update
  4. Obtain access card at the front desk
  5. Email with your card or fob number

Key Member

  1. Select a current Key Member as your sponsor and discuss requirements with your sponsor
  2. Perform 5 hours of Nova Labs community service
  3. Once your sponsor determines that you are ready to be a contributing, responsible part of the community culture you are submitted for board approval
  4. After board approval, further instructors are forwarded to you

How do I buy a Day Pass?

A Day Pass is $20 per day. They are only good on the day of purchase. Purchase at the front desk during open hours or from a key member who has been trained on the issuance process, willing to verify your authorization, and is responsible. You must be at least at the attendee level, age 18, and signed off on Green Orientation. Use of Yellow and Red tools requires applicable sign off. Attendees require a Day Pass for use of any lab area, but particularly ANY tool in the lab in an independent, unsupervised manner. The Day Pass includes an access card to the Shop area. Day pass holders are allowed to use the equipment from the time of purchase until the lab closes (last key member leaves).

How do I see the Nova Labs Meetup Calendar?

How do I ask more questions about Membership info, Day Passes, benefits, or Slack?

Send an email to

How do I get an invitation to Slack?

Send an email to

Subject: "Slack request for <your name>" Body: State if you are an Attendee, Associate or Key member? You must have the GO sign off!

Slack address:

Slack Policy: - Must use full name and Nova Labs registered email address in profile - Key Members and Attendees are offboarded when they resign their membership or associateship - Green Orientation is required for full slack access - Key Members may request single-channel guest be added with access only to a single channel (send email nad name to - Single-channel guests may be added and removed at the discretion of Nova Labs membership team


Unless otherwise noted in the class's refund policy on each specific meetup, the policy is consistent for all events as follows:

Students withdrawing from a class must change their own RSVP on the meetup to free up the seat. A refund will be issued only if notified 48 hours or more before the start of the class. A full refund will be issued to your credit card within a few days.

*To receive a refund:* Send an email to containing: the class date, your meetup ID, your meetup name, and the reason for withdrawal

Nova Labs, a not for profit, does have to pay the fees each time you do this, so please be thoughtful.


Desktop Web

  • Click on your Profile icon in the upper right hand corner
  • Select Settings from the dropdown menu
  • Open the Payments Made tab
  • Locate the transaction in question and select Contact organizer for refund
  • Enter the necessary information following the prompts

Mobile Web

  • Click on your Profile icon in the upper right hand corner
  • Select Settings and choose All Transactions
  • Locate the transaction in question and tap the arrow next to it
  • Tap Contact organizer for refund
  • Enter the necessary information following the prompts

How do I check my current equipment sign-offs?

Check periodically to make sure you have all of your equipment and safety sign offs. Email if you are missing any that you have earned. You will be asked for a few pieces of information so we can verify.

  • - Logon to your Nova Labs account on
  • - Click on My Account
  • - View the My Groups area at the bottom of the page for your current sign offs
  • - Review the [equipment] entries on this list

Why is sign off required?

Safety training protects you from harm. Documented safety sign off is part of Nova Labs' process of due diligence and care. Sign off by an authorized instructor helps ensure that the safety messages are consistently communicated to keep you and our community's equipment safe and operational.

I have *tons of experience*, do I still need documented sign off?

Experienced users should know that the same class of tool can be slightly different. Tools have quirks and differences. A process that was acceptable in your previous shop, may not be OK here.

I'm in a hurry, could I get one-on-one sign off?

The short answer is YES. An authorized Nova Labs instructor may sign you off one-on-one.

  • You must have attended Green Orientation (GO!) and met all other prerequisites
  • One-on-one training must be approved by a steward
  • The instructor must be prepared to proved that they used the current safety slide and guidelines
  • Instructor must charge for the class and submit your name for sign off using the Instructor Form
  • Free training is available only as a reward for active and consistent volunteers Nova Labs fully, fully supports makers helping maker through Supervised tool usage. That's fantastic and it's the way cool spirit of our community. However, helping a maker during a supervised tool usage session or Open Office session will NOT result in a sign off in our membership database, unless the person is a really active community member with a record of active and consistent volunteering. The is a process that supports our policy of fairness, incentivising active volunteering, safety, due diligence, consistency, and equal treatment.

What kinds of projects are on our Maker Wall of Fame?

Ground rules: built at Nova Labs in whole, good looking, easily seen as a "maker" project, preferably "only seen here" vibe. Wall should represent all the shops and passion areas. Smaller frames for individual projects. Larger ones and more points for multishop/multimaker/collaborative projects. Minimize made for money projects, maximize joy of making projects. Nothing illegal. Extra points if the project has a great maker journey story because an organization are it's stories. The things on the wall should epitomize the make journey and tell some kind of story about who we are and how our community worked together to support a makerquest.

How do I subscribe or unsubscribe to email lists

Optional: We recommend you do this with a desktop computer for best view when setting up the account

  1. Register for a new account
  2. Check the box to accept the liability waiver and click submit
  3. Check your email for a verification message and initial password
  4. Go to and click on Login
  5. Login using your initial password and follow the prompts to change your password
  6. Click on My Account
  7. Click on the Accounting tab
  8. Click the Associate Member ($50/month) bubble
  9. Click on the "Change Credit Card" button and add your credit card information
  10. Click on the "Update Membership Information" button

Congratulations, you are a member. When Nova Labs is open again, please stop by the front desk during our front desk hours and get a member badge. The badge will have to be enabled and this take a few days. The badge may be issued, but you'll need to have attended the New Member Orientation for it to be activated.

How do I cancel my own membership?

Associates and Members must terminate membership themselves by following the instructions below. Unsubscribe from Slack and from the email lists. If you need assistance, email However ONLY YOU can stop the credit card payment!!!

  1. Login to
  2. Click on My Accounts
  3. Select the Accounting tab
  4. Under Membership Plan, select the radio button for Attendee ($0)
  5. Click on Update Membership Information
  6. Logout

Key Membership can be stopped by using the above instructions. However, key members are required to also send an email to to ensure full termination of all services. We will stop all the additional email and slack messages.

faqs.txt · Last modified: 2020/04/29 17:32 by jennyfer.peterson
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