Makers of all ages came out last weekend to enjoy the National Maker Faire on UDC’s Dennard Plaza.
What was at this Faire? For kids, hands-on building opportunities galore.
And for adults, plenty to see and enjoy. There were workshops and presentations. Maker spaces from many parts of the country were represented, as people came to show off what they had created.
What are maker spaces? They are places where people can gather to create and share tools and know-how. Two local maker spaces had booths at the National Maker Faire: Tech Space in Arlington, and a group out of Reston, Nova Labs.
And where did these spaces originate? They started in California, and Dale Dougherty, founder and CEO of Maker Media, promoted this movement by founding Make magazine and the first Maker Faire in 2005.
The UDC School of Engineering and Applied Sciences had a popular booth. A number of faculty members and students showcased their projects, including Mars navigation, a humanoid robot for different tasks and student-built drones and UAVs. Faculty gave guided tours of the UDC zero energy center, the bioengineering laboratory and nanotechnology lab.
I found Devdas Shetty, the dean of the UDC School of Engineering, by the UDC Engineering tables showcasing some of the work of the students. He introduced me to the team responsible for putting this Faire together.
“We are glad that the Maker Faire 2016 was hosted at the University of District of Columbia campus with such a large participation of designers, small and large companies, publishers, tinkerers and individuals who wanted to share their innovation,” Shetty told me. “There were things for everybody from kindergarten to University students and older. You could see excitement in the eyes of the presenters and audience.”
I thought the Faire was a great display of “Design Thinking.” Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes – and strategy. The many prototype displays illustrated this idea. The goal of prototyping isn’t just to finish. It is to learn about the strength and weakness of an idea and to identify new directions that further prototypes might take.
One cluster of tables remained busy throughout. The attraction was decorating T-shirts with magic markers and stencils. While 3D printers and other tech are the showoffs of maker spaces, making doesn’t require high-tech tools. And it’s something anyone can do.
I left the Faire hoping a maker space will make it to Van Ness someday. And let’s hope the National Maker Faire returns to UDC next year!