ACU’s annual Makerfest is one of the many events forced to go virtual this year due to the coronavirus. The event will take place online from April 16- 30.
“The last 5 years Makerfest has been a combination of people showing off projects that they made in the Maker Lab, combined with maker lab staff helping them through the process,” said Darren Wilson, director of the Maker Lab. “We provide the tools for people to make stuff and try out the tools.”
This year the event will take place in a virtual setting. Participants will receive their projects from the lab by mail. The project for this year is a leather notebook.
Although the event will continue, students will not be able to receive face-to-face instruction. To fix this problem the lab will hold daily zoom calls for participants involved in Makerfest. This will allow the Maker Lab team to provide daily check-ins with participants and see how projects are coming along.
“Makerfest has always been a time where we were able to build a community,” Wilson said. “There are 200 participants from all over the country, and it’s a good mix of faculty staff, students, and even prospective students.”
By going virtual, the lab was able to open Makerfest to prospective students with the help of administration. The lab originally planned on sending out 100 kits but set up a second sign-up sheet and it was filled by 100 more participants within 24 hours.
Due to the high participation this year, the Maker Lab has had to adapt in many ways. One way they adapted was by adding remote help to their website. Whether it be brainstorming, help with Makerfest or even figuring out Adobe Illustrator, the Maker Lab team is now able to help in real-time.
“Maker Lab is always about finding new innovative ways to do things,” Wilson said. “This project was such a great one to do remotely. It’s really caused us to rethink how to help people with their project. My favorite part was trying to plan ahead.”
Stefano Elliot, ACU Forth Worth advancement officer, and many others who aren’t in Abilene were able to participate in this year’s Makerfest. With it being remote The Maker Lab was able to work with prospective students as well.
“I hope this may open the door for ACU alumni and friends who live remotely to participate,” Elliot said. “It’s also exciting to see that there were some prospective students who joined in, that’s awesome.”
Participants have agreed to share pictures and videos on social media throughout the process. The Maker Lab plans on making a compilation of submissions at the end of Makerfest.