I thoroughly enjoyed my time nerding out at the 2018 New York City Maker Faire. From grooving on the dance floor to cheering on the battlebots, there was fan fair and creativity in the air. The initiatives spanned every size and scale. A 40 foot mechanical clawed arm, controlled with a right-hand sensor-laden glove was picking up a totaled car, not unlike the Blade Runner 2049 villainess directing remote attacks on Officer K. On the other end of the size spectrum, a flexible chip maker, MellBell Electronics, showed how their product could be used in everything from wearables to interactive 2D visuals. There was something for everyone. Below is a short list of some of my favorite Faire features.
Top things I loved about the Maker Faire
Girls learning how to drill…
1. The spike in young girls…
STEM for girls initiatives have visibly turned the tides! Whereas four years ago the Maker Faire displayed a sea of prototypical boy engineers, this year’s Faire had little ladies of all backgrounds, getting hands-on with building.
…from Disney princesses in work boots. Our 21st century role models have arrived.
2…and the role models there to meet them
Importantly, there was a heroine aesthetic being donned by many of the women instructors. One stand introducing kids to hand drills was run by Disney princesses in work boots. They were aptly named Beauty and the Bolt. Another activity had Princess Leia and Rey leading instruction.
3. The number of Johnny 5 inspired robots
Every anthropomorphized consumer bot seems to look like Wall-E, who had clear influences from the Short Circuit humanoid robot, Johnny 5. I approve of this trend.
4. The Tesla coil made musical
Speaking of the past inspiring the future, oneTesla had the most epic demo of how a Tesla coil can be used to make lightning that both lights a wireless light bulb and plays music simultaneously. It was a light show, concert, and tech demo all in one. I don’t foresee Nikola Tesla’s vision of fully wireless electricity transfer coming to pass at scale, but this is not a bad alternative use case.
Lightning jumped from the coil on the right to the light bulb on the left, all to an electronic beat.
5. The next gen 3D printer
It’s nice to see equipment manufacturers beginning to combine capabilities for similar, but equally necessary tools for a makerspace. Specifically, one stand presented a combination CNC-3D printing machine, thus marrying related tooling with distinct software.
6. The sky is the limit thinking
It was fantastic to see the International Space Station represented alongside their many collaborators, including Magnitude.io. Magnitude.io’s prototype smallsats are blazing trails for educational accessibility. Where CubeSats have dramatically increased space access at a reduced cost, thanks to their 10 cm cubic size, Magnitude.io displayed concepts the size of a pack of gum.
There’s a smaller game in town than CubeSats. Magnitude.io has launched CanSats and is developing even smaller sats.
The future is happening, and the brilliant minds of all ages and backgrounds present at the 2018 Maker Faire are leading the charge.