UR Amazes Attendees at Mini Maker Faire

UR Amazes Attendees at Mini Maker Faire

December 1, 2014

In one corner, elementary school students ride a seesaw. In another corner, college students help people of all ages navigate a virtual world. In the hallway, an artist displays a Leaning Tower of Pisa…made out of toothpicks. That was the scene at Rochester’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire at the Riverside Convention Center on November 22. Staff from the River Campus Libraries Digital Humanities Center (DHC) joined 95 “makers” and hundreds of curious attendees for what Faire organizers call “the greatest show (and tell) on earth.”

Makers included artists, engineers, and innovators of all kinds. The University of Rochester was well represented by students and faculty members from the River Campus Libraries, the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Media Arts and Innovation Center at Ronald Rettner Hall, the Computer Science department, and the Digital Media Studies program.

Joshua Romphf, a programmer in the DHC, demonstrated several projects, including a 3D printer.  

"I feel that our involvement with the Maker Faire…is an important step in establishing the contemporary role of the RCL as more than just a repository of books. We are an information center and a research facilitator – whether that's in the form of reference librarianship or the more technical work that we do in the Digital Humanities Center,” he said. “Our notion of digital scholarship is one that extends well beyond electronic publication and into the 'internet of things,' where interdisciplinary experimentation in the form of 'making' – be it physical computing, 3D modeling, GIS, etc. – is not only accepted, but encouraged." 

Students from UR Makers – a club where students of all majors collaborate to create, research, and build a variety of projects – demonstrated how to use Google Glass at the Maker Faire. HapTech is a team of students from the University of Rochester and Cornell University investigating ways to use a tactile feedback technology called haptics. Visitors to their table put on a headset and gloves that allowed them to explore a virtual world using 3D gaming technology. Solar Splash, a cross-discipline engineering club at the University of Rochester, showcased their solar-powered boat. The Creative Arts Club, UR Baja SAE, and Engineers without Borders also displayed their projects.

George Ferguson, director of programs and operations at Rettner Hall, said the UR students made a big impact at the Faire. He noticed children asking the students questions and looking to them as role models and leaders. Mike Jarvis, director of the Digital Media Studies Program, agrees.

“By modeling their own research interests and designs, [the students] were certainly inspiring to the many middle and high school students who stopped by our table that day,” he said.

Both Professor Jarvis and Professor Ferguson also noticed experienced makers offering the students feedback on their projects.

“Events like this put our students in touch with a much larger community of innovators, employers, and potential clients in the real world, allowing them to both show off their own achievements and see what other ‘makers’ are developing,” Professor Jarvis said. “This sort of cross-fertilization may help spark new ideas and approaches after the students return to campus and build bridges toward future graduate study and employment.”

“The Maker movement is really about having a community where you learn by doing with help from others and then share what you’ve learned to help others,” said Professor Ferguson. “I felt that it was important for UR and our students to be part of creating and growing the Rochester Maker community.”

To learn more about the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, click here.

To view photos of UR’s participation in the event, click here.

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