Maker Faire Pittsburgh aims to bring 10,000 to national arts event-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Maker Faire Pittsburgh aims to bring 10,000 to national arts event

As part of the kickoff event for Maker Faire Pittsburgh, a scaled-down replica of the DeLorean from the movie “Back to the Future” tooled around the plaza at Nova Place on the North Side. Chad Elish, president of Uptown-based creative makers workshop HackPittsburgh, was driving the vehicle appropriately titled “Hack to the Future.”

Meanwhile, the First Robotics team — made up of high school students across southwestern Pennsylvania — proudly showed off a robot built entirely by students, as it moved large crates around. And a group of students wearing “Straight Outta CAPA” T-shirts described the visual arts they planned to display at the upcoming Maker Faire being billed as the largest of its kind between New York City and Detroit.

The first-ever Maker Faire Pittsburgh, which will be held Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 at the Nova Place community park and the Children’s Museum, is expected to draw some 10,000 visitors to see 200 exhibits, as well as performances and presentations, organizers said Monday.

In addition to robots, it will include a remote control cupcake launcher, 3-D printing, and instruction in coding and “make-and-take” activities using electronics and recycled materials.

The faire “is enhancing what Pittsburgh is in a 21st century way,” said Mayor Bill Peduto, referencing the region’s entrepreneurship and manufacturing history. The list of participants includes students, crafters, engineers and local startup companies, all centered around the “maker” theme.

The first Maker Faire was held in San Mateo, Calif., in 2006, and drew more than 20,000 people. The concept has grown to include more than 100 mini-maker faires around the world.

In addition to building, making and hacking, the Pittsburgh event will continue the Maker Faire’s emphasis on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education with workshops and demonstrations.

That idea was on display Monday with the Sarah Heinz House FIRST Robotics team of high schoolers, which is almost 50 percent female, organizer Christine Nguyen noted. “Everyone is required to learn the skills and do the work,” she said. “It helps instill the idea that anyone can be an engineer.” FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization focused on science and technology education initiatives for students from kindergarten through high school.

Makers, by the event’s definition, aren’t just robot builders or fiber artists, but include those from the more traditional disciplines as well. Isaiah Baynes, 17, a North Side resident who attends Pittsburgh CAPA, plans an original sculpture for the faire. Sagar Kamath, 16, a CAPA student who is a painter, plans something in the tradition of Monet.

Jeremy Leventhal, managing partner of Faros Properties, which is renovating the former Allegheny Center into Nova Place, said Maker Faire Pittsburgh is the kind of event that he’s hoping to see more of. “This is a national event, the kind of thing we want to bring to the community,” he said.

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By: Kim Lyons, Pittsburgh Post Gazette