In the making: A Miami revolution

More than 3,000 participants experienced first hand the the city’s latest and greatest “maker” inventions at the second annual Miami Mini Maker Faire Saturday. Photo by Jenna Buehler.

Crowds lined 26th Street in Wynwood, craning their necks to see cutting-edge technology at high-demand booths. Attendees were able to 3-D print copies of themselves at The LAB Miami, and move a robotic hand by using the static electricity generated by their own thoughts.

Of the more than 90 exhibitors at the event, many of the featured workshop hosts were relatively new to Miami’s “maker” scene. Founders of Design Thinking Miami, Mariana Rego and Jessica Do, kicked off the faire with a workshop on what it means to solve problems by “thinking design,” thinking about the needs of people first and using empathy to solve problems.  Do moved to Miami from New York just recently, and says that she and Rego, a Miami native, are motivated by the momentum they experienced at Tech Weekend last month and, again, at the faire.

“The maker concept is new to Miami, but Miami itself is a city where everywhere you look there is an artist, technologist and innovator,” Do said. “Design thinking isn’t out of reach here, and this is just the beginning of what we’ll see from the maker community here.”

Daniela Rodriguez, 15, of Blessed Trinity School, demonstrates how static electricity generated by brain waves — or an individual’s thoughts — can be used to move a robotic hand. Photo by Jenna Buehler.

Individuals who have played a key role in helping to build Miami’s community of entrepreneurs over the last decade are also excited about the future of the faire and Miami’s maker community. Alex de Carvalho, Knight Innovator in Residence at Florida International University (FIU), said more than 40 children attended The Countdown Institute workshop at the faire. Young programmers and their parents learned how to read measurements from a satellite prototype. This particular workshop stems from an international relationship with Arduino — which is providing the group with the satellite technology for these workshops — and is one of more than a dozen other initiatives that Carvalho has launched in the city in the last nine years.

“The maker community we see here today is still in its infancy,” Carvalho said. “We’re witnessing a revolution before our eyes; everyone is finding out and discovering that — like swimming or biking — the more an individual gets their feet wet, the better they and society as a whole becomes.”

Supporters of the faire included Knight Foundation, part of its initiative to connect Miami’s community of innovators and entrepreneurs, organizer MIAMade, and Make Magazine.

Twins Alexandra and Sebastián Cassels solder together their own “bug brush bot” project. Photo by Jenna Buehler.

The event wasn’t just for locals, either. This is the second year that inventors traveled south from the Space Coast to both sponsor and present at the faire. Inventors at Jaycon Systems designed and produced the event’s mini “bug brush bot” soldering kits. They also unveiled the world’s smallest consumer 3-D resin printer.

The event’s largest consumer 3-D printer, however, was located at the other corner of The LAB. The family-owned and operated company, 1 Click 3D Print, opened for business a few blocks away from The LAB Miami just three weeks ago. Alfredo Blumenthal and his son, Werner, said they were excited about how they have been received by the community and are eager to see what’s next.

“It seems that in the last five years we have been educating people on what the 3-D printers can do,” Alfredo Blumenthal said. “More recently, everyone knows about these printers and we must explain what they cannot do.”

Schools throughout the Greater Miami Area took part in both the FIRST Robotics robot games and the VEX Robotics battle. Participants included state-qualified champions in robotics at MAST Academy, Hollywood Hills, Archbishop McCarthy and Miami Lakes schools. The faire gave students an opportunity to test their technology prior to a robotics competition that will take place next year.

Visit the  Meetup and The LAB Miami websites, or follow @makerfairemiami on Twitter, to learn more about maker events in South Florida.

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