The first Maker Fest will take place in the Maker Lab during the spring semester, but students can sign up to show off their work now.
Maker Fest is modeled after Maker Faire, a large conference for makers of all kinds to showcase inventions, creations and creativity described as “the greatest show and tell on Earth.”
Dr. Nil Santana and Chad Longley have teamed up to bring the atmosphere of the large conference to ACU, but on a smaller scale. Santana, associate professor in the Department of Art and Design, is the director of the Maker Lab, and Longley is the manager.
Maker Faire is conducted worldwide throughout the year, drawing in tens of thousands of makers from all over.
“There are hundreds of these hosted internationally every year, and they’re hosted by maker spaces,” Longley said. “This is us trying to bring this to Abilene and give it our own brand.”
Earlier this year, Santana and Longley attended the Maker Faire in New York City along with about 90,000 other people.
“We thought it would be interesting to create an event at a local level that would get most of the ACU community excited about working and doing things,” Santana said. “Ours is going to be similar in scope but much, much smaller, but it’s the same thing.”
The Maker Lab opened two years ago as part of the Maker Movement and offers students, faculty and community members the opportunity to create with the limit of one’s imagination. Some of the equipment provided by the lab includes a 3-D printer and two types of laser cutters.
This year, the Maker Lab launched its first wave of project funds with the intention of drawing in more students. The funding is provided via grants and from the university.
“We want to encourage them to get things done,” Santana said. “We want to see some of the projects we are promoting in the fall semester shown in the spring at the Maker Fest.”
Since it’s been open, the Maker Lab has shown faculty work, while student work has been less prominent. Now, Santana and Longley are looking for more ways to get students involved and to show their work.
“We want to open this up and try to get other people to come in,” Longley said. “We’d love to have to be scrambling for space for people.”
Though Maker Fest is set to commence during the spring semester, sign-ups have already been posted, and Santana and Longley are looking for willing participants. There are about seven students and groups of faculty and staff members working on projects to show next semester.
“The concept is quite simple; it’s basically to engage the ACU community with making in general and explain the process of how people work on a project,” Santana said. “The idea is to have makers from all ages, from all disciplines showing and displaying the works they have made.”
The event, like the larger Maker Faire, will also feature a workshop or activity in which guests can learn to make a simple object and compete for a prize, though it is still being planned.
All types of projects are welcome to be displayed at Maker Fest.
“We’d love to see diversity of projects – from robotics to 3-D printed to a do-it-yourself cabinet – any kind of project would be great,” Santana said.
Maker Fest will be open to the ACU community as well as the Abilene community.
“The idea is that people get excited about showing what they’ve done to excite others,” Santana said. “We are very excited about organizing the event, and we are hoping faculty, students and staff from ACU will continue to think about what kind of projects they can display and be really excited about that and contact us.”
For more information about Maker Fest, or to sign up to show your work, visit http://blogs.acu.edu/makerfest.