Maker Faire Detroit wrapped up its weekend-long festival on July 29th at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Thousands of people gathered for an event that is “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new” according to their website. For over 10 years, Maker Faire has been inspiring kids and adults across the United States to embrace science and technology with hundreds of exhibitors that want to show you what they’ve made and to share with you what they’ve learned in the process. If you’re unfamiliar with Maker Faires or missed out on Detroit, here’s what happened.
Maker Faire Detroit is a family-friendly event
Maker Faire does such a great job of making their events fun for the entire family. Kids of all ages can engage with different hands-on activities or gaze in awe at what the latest in technology is bringing to the table. With such a wide variety of booths to check out, kids are able to have fun and explore different interests that they may want to delve into later in life.
Among the many booths were local high school FIRST Robotics teams. These kids were excited to show off their robot and talk to visitors about the ins-and-outs of designing, building, and competing during the FIRST Robotics season.
It’s nice to not only see local schools at Maker Faires but local maker spaces and business as well. i3Detroit, the largest community-run DIY co-working space in metro Detroit had a tent in the outdoor area where they were able to talk to attendees about the importance of learning and experimenting. Maker Spaces let DIYers tinker and craft with tools that may not be easily accessible. Members of maker spaces swap ideas and tips over a diverse range of creations whether it be woodworking, metalworking, programming, etc.
Manufacturing a Career panel discussion
Throughout the weekend at Maker Faire Detroit were several panel discussions regarding technology and the future. One of those discussions was “Manufacturing a Career”, a panel hosted by the industry relations manager of SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) and featured speakers from Fisher Unitech, The Automotive Hall of Fame, TD Industrial Coverings, and Eaton Corporation.
The panelists started off by talking about how they became interested in manufacturing, and unsurprisingly, they all seemed to find joy in taking things apart and tinkering at a young age always wanting to know how their toys or certain objects were made.
When the question “what do parents and educators need to understand about manufacturing as careers that you think most of them don’t?”. One panelist from The Automotive Hall of Fame believes there is still a stereotype and stigma around manufacturing. She believes that being exposed to different discussions, Maker Faires, and understanding how products are made from design to delivery can help squash that stereotype. She also expressed excitement for Industry 4.0 stating, “we’re in our fourth industrial revolution and these are connected smart factories that are being run now. It’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing, it’s a highly technology-based time to be in manufacturing and to communicate that to teachers, educators, students, and parents is one of the hurdles we’re trying to get through ... to show that a lot of the things the students connect with naturally is actually in the manufacturing world.”
All four panelists strongly agreed that events like Maker Faires help get the next generation of learners to experience manufacturing hands-on. They agreed that being able to see how something works or how something is made hands-on can help introduce jobs, careers, and awareness.
When asked, “what do we need to do to attract more people to the manufacturing world in the next few years?”, the answers the panelists gave really made an impact on the audience. Communication is the most powerful weapon here because young kids aren’t asking the right questions about manufacturing. They’re ingrained to ask questions like, “how much do you make?” “is what you do hard?” “is your work fun?” - we need to show young students what amazing things can be accomplished in the manufacturing industry and how it can truly impact the world - show them what you do and be excited about it.
If you’re interested in going to a Maker Faire, the tour isn’t over yet. Find a location near you here.
Watch the full panel discussion below.
About the Author
Angelle Erickson writes about how companies are using innovative technologies, such as 3D printers and SOLIDWORKS software to increase productivity, improve product development processes, and maximize business potential.