Open Hardware Leaders

Four open hardware advocates joined forces to work on Open Hardware Leaders: Jose Carlos Urra Llanusa (@jurra), Alexander Kutschera (@alexwastooshort), André Maia Chagas (@Chagas_AM) & Juli Arancio (@cassandreces). I’ve been working with this group during Open Leaders X as they prepare to launch their own open leadership program focused on open hardware.

I interviewed Jose, Alex, André & Juli to learn more about Open Hardware Leaders and how you can contribute to the work.

Open Leaders X

What is Open Hardware Leaders?

José: Open Hardware Leaders is an immersive training program starting February 2020 inspired and developed as a branch of the Mozilla Open Leaders program. Open Hardware Leaders is focused on teaching and disseminating best practices, knowledge and strategies in the open hardware domain. Its a 14 week immersive program aimed at teams that want to consolidate open hardware projects with strategic design tools and community building strategies. It is also a growing group of open hardware advocates that share common values and perspective on how to bring open hardware to the level of open source software today.

Why did you start Open Hardware Leaders?

José: We want to contribute in bringing open hardware to the same level of open source software, and we think that teaching is key in that. After several years of participation in open source hardware communities we have found that there are several core challenges around project and community sustainability: standards for documentation, networking and communities, findability, different content quality, and more. We believe that leadership, solidarity and dialogue are key in building, sustaining and empowering communities. On this basis we are bringing a multidimensional and interdisciplinary approach to the field that involves understanding and practicing open standards, data management, economic models, community growth, product versioning and release, design tools and more.

Juli: Lots of people start building and using open hardware on their own, as a side activity. As with everything new, institutions may not always support it or recognize the value of this work. I think an important role of this mentorship program is supporting newcomers, giving them the tools but also access to a community that allows them to make their case stronger at their workplaces.

How does your program connect participants to the internet health movement?

José: In short we bring consciousness, intention and awareness with regard to internet health through best practices. We do this by disseminating the usage of tools that are compliant with a healthy internet like: autonomy, sovereignty and decentralization. For instance for communication and chats we are planning to use matrix +, a messaging solution that is open source and has an open specification. We are also encouraging participants to practice FAIR (Findable Accessible Interoperable and Reusable) data in design. For repository management we use Gitlab which is open source and provides very useful services for hardware design. Furthermore we monitor in parallel to our work those tools and platforms that are healthier, have lower footprint and are sustainable.

Juli: Building open hardware requires a very diverse set of tools and practices. We want to make sure more and more diverse people have access to do it in the best available way at the moment. We understand this is only possible when people have access to the tools they need and are able to tweak them, customize them, use them the way they want. This is why openness is key. Complementary to this, to host a diversity of approaches to open hardware beyond a mere diversity label, decentralization becomes crucial. If we want to make this movement grow we need everyone to be able to make their own decisions technically and not-technically speaking. So the possibility of owning the infrastructure is also very important for us.

What did you learn by bringing your program to MozFest 2019? How are you continuing the momentum after the festival?

José: We learned that friendship, solidarity, determination, fun, work, creativity and critical thinking are all coming from one source: a deep, natural and organic sense of empathy to each other. We are keeping the momentum by relying and trusting on each others' talents, as well as being responsible and committed to the goals we have set together. This involves basically a lot of work and networking. We also learned that there are a lot of hardworking mozillians doing excellent work around the planet and that is a transformative experience.

Juli: For me MozFest is a living successful example of collaboration and openness in diversity, something to imitate. In particular I learned a lot from listening to all the Open Leaders programs that are starting next year: what they prioritize, how they plan and organize the learning journey. I also confirmed that open hardware sparkles people's curiosity. We had lots of people approaching our open hardware science fair, asking questions, wanting to learn more. The idea that material objects should also be open is a very powerful one.

How can others get involved in your program?

There are many ways to get involved:

  • You can apply to the program with an open hardware project or an idea that has been worked on enough to be developed in 14 weeks. Applications are open at, deadline is 22 december 2019.
  • You can also contribute as an expert in a particular field; you’ll be able to help participants by answering their questions in a one time session - We are looking for experts from all fields, technical or not: designers, developers, engineers, community building experts, documentation experts, UX.
  • You can become a mentor, one of our key roles, supporting the participants’ journey through the 14-week program. We will provide mentors with mentorship training, so if you are interested in mentoring an open hardware project please contact us!
  • You can contribute to our syllabus with ideas or resources, please check
  • Your organization, institution or company can support the program, e.g. to buy hardware components or host participants’ work.

Open Hardware Leaders is a volunteer-based program, so community participation is what keeps it running.

Our first cohort is starting in February 2020. If you think you can contribute in any of the ways mentioned above (or maybe another!) drop us an email: [email protected]

What meme or gif best represents your program?

you said your hardware projet was open, no README, github repo, last commit 2012

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