Mark Mathias 1/31/13

Mark is the founder and co-chair of the Westport Mini Maker Faire. He started by asking: “What are makers”? Basically they are people who make stuff, whether it is building from a kit or an erector set or designing and building your own creation. He then showed a video of a 10-year-old autistic boy who designed a pneumatic marshmallow shooter which he demonstrated to Pres. Obama. The bottom line message from the video was:

“ Don’t be bored, do something”!

The Mini Maker Faire picks up on that message by bringing people of all ages together to show items that they designed and built themselves. Dale Dougherty, who created a magazine called MAKE describing various projects that a layperson can develop, started it. Eight years later, Faires were attracting over 110,000 people around the country. One of the exhibits was a drivable fire-breathing dragon made from a stripped down school bus.

On 4/28 2012 Westport decided to put on their own Faire. It was sponsored predominantly by the Westport Sunrise Rotary and supplemented by many other sponsors. They expected up to 800 attendees, but amazingly 2200 people showed up including students from 5 different school districts. Exhibits included a wooden canoe, a 3D printer, various robotics including two robots playing basketball against each other, and a submersible submarine that could descend to up to 200 feet! It turned out that seeing creativity and innovation is contagious, and many students came away from the Faire feeling that being a “geek” was cool. Designing and building things was seen as fun, and not as an assignment. A bunch of students built a RC flyable airplane whose body was completely built from discarded road signs. Using some of the money made during the Faire, the library purchased a 3D printer which is being used by young and old to create all kinds of solid objects from chess pieces to a tool set.

The Library also created the first “maker space” in Connecticut continuing to push the envelope with innovative programs for all ages including helping people to create their own businesses. At this time, many other cities in Ct. are creating their own Faires including Bridgeport where the Sunrise Rotary has provided them a 3D printer.

The next Westport Faire will be on 4/27, 2013. They are planning to have over 100 exhibitors and over 5000 attendees. We all were invited to attend, and to “make something”! Mark ended his presentation by demonstrating a “QuadCopter” which he flew sending instructions from his IPAD. The Coptor included a video camera that showed the audience as it flew in front of us. It was truly amazing.

During Q&A the following points were made:

1. The only workshop classes in Westport schools are culinary arts and woodworking and engineering.

2. It would be nice to have a shop where people can come in and build their own designs.


Thank you Brian for another interesting and informative speaker.