New Commitments in Support of the President’s Nation of Makers Initiative
“During National Week of Making, we celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers. Last year, at the first-ever White House Maker Faire, I called on leaders around our Nation to join in sparking a grassroots renaissance in American making and manufacturing.
As the maker movement grows, I continue to call on all Americans to help unlock the potential of our Nation and ensure these opportunities reach all our young people, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
— President Obama
In June 2014, the President launched the Nation of Makers initiative, an all-hands-on-deck call to give many more students, entrepreneurs, and citizens access to a new class of technologies – such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and desktop machine tools – that are enabling more Americans to design, build, and manufacture just about anything.
Today, the President is proclaiming a National Week of Making and the Administration is announcing important progress on the Nation of Makers initiative:
- More than 150 K-12 and higher education leaders, representing more than 4 million students, are committing to an all-hands-on-deck effort to broaden participation in making, tinkering, and invention, with expanded access to the tools, design courses, mentors, and spaces that are essential;
- Federal agencies, companies, non-profits, cities, and schools are collectively making commitments to create over 1,000 maker-oriented spaces in the United States, which will expand access to tools and technologies for both students and entrepreneurs; and
- Federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are launching challenges and competitions that leverage the diverse talents for creativity, problem-solving, and innovation in the growing Maker community.
America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, the rise of the Maker Movement and growing community of self-identified “Makers” is a huge opportunity for the United States. In the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, the democratization of the tools need to design and prototype physical products can support entrepreneurship and a renaissance of American manufacturing.
The rapid deployment of advanced tools like 3D printers, CNC machining, and tools for digital design – and their precipitous drop in price – is empowering tinkerers, entrepreneurs, and companies to transform an idea from a drawing on the back of a cocktail napkin to a working prototype faster than ever before.
For the last two years, the first time in decades, more factories have been opening up and more manufacturing entrepreneurs have been setting up shop, supported by a culture of making, an accessibility to the tools, aspiring manufacturers need to reduce their ideas to practice.
Given the capital intensive nature of the manufacturing sector, public and private investments in access to modern tools, shared-services spaces, and manufacturing-specific curricula—will empower more technologists to move into this space, expand manufacturing entrepreneurship, and unlock new American industries.
These new tools can also help recreate “shop class” for the 21st century, giving students the types of hands-on STEM learning experiences that spark interest in science and technology careers and broader 21st century skills. It is also promoting a “Maker mindset” – dispositions and skills such as curiosity, collaborative problem-solving, and self-efficacy, with mentors and educators also inspiring the next generation to invent, tinker, and learn vital skills in STEM education.
Details on National Week of Making
Today, the President is proclaiming June 12 – 18 the National Week of Making. During the week, which marks the one-year anniversary of the first-ever White House Maker Faire, hundreds of related events celebrating home-grown ingenuity will be taking place around the country in libraries, museums, schools, universities, and community spaces.
The week will coincide with a National Maker Faire in Washington DC June 12 – 13, organized by a broad range of national and local organizations on the University of DC campus, which will include participation from Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration Institute for Museum and Library Services, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Air and Space Museum National Endowment for the Arts, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian, USAID, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and VA.
Major Announcements in Response to the President’s Call to Action
- More than 100 school leaders of K-12 districts and schools, representing more than 3 million students, are committing to an all-hands-on-deck effort to broaden participation in making, tinkering, and inventing. School leaders from Alabama to Wisconsin are committing to give their students access to the tools, mentors, and spaces that are driving the Maker Movement. For example, schools are supplying dedicated workspaces in their buildings for making and tinkering. In addition, schools are designating a “maker in residence” from the community, offering professional development opportunities for teachers to incorporate making projects into their learning objectives, providing students with the opportunity to complete capstone design and engineering projects, and expanding student interest in hands-on projects via peer mentoring. These commitments are captured in bothjoint and individual letters by these schools leaders and were organized by Maker Ed, Digital Promise and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, who will also support the follow-up and execution of these commitments. For example:
- Dracut Public Schools, serving 4,000 students in Massachusetts, is creating an alternate scheduling system that will allow art, computer and library time to augment its science classes.
- Duplin Public Schools, serving 10,000 students in North Carolina, will put “STEM Labs” with a design thinking curriculum, and adult volunteers as classroom aids, in all of its 7 middle schools, with plans to expand to all of the elementary schools the following year.
- Harrisburg School District, serving 6,000 students in Pennsylvania, will work with Partnership Planners to create spaces for design, tinkering and making at each of the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
- Intermediate Unit 1, serving more 56,000 students in 25 small school districts in rural Pennsylvania, will work with partners like Chevron to create a flagship “Fab Lab” to serve the region, as well as a mobile “Fab Lab” that will travel across the region.
- League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of 57 public school districts that serves over 3.2 million students convened by Digital Promise, is committing to collectively expand opportunities for students to engage in Maker education. To support these efforts, Digital Promise will develop a set of 20 Maker education micro-credentials; partner on campaigns to fund maker-oriented spaces in League schools; and launch a communications campaign to highlight the power and potential of Maker education.
- Lincoln Public Schools, serving almost 40,000 students near Lincoln, Nebraska, will create simple maker kits that can travel between libraries in its school system, and will work to build interest in dedicated spaces.
- South Fayette Township School District, serving approximately 3,000 in southwest Pennsylvania, will provide STEM and arts training to more than 300 of its teachers.
- UCLA Lab School, a research-centered elementary school serving 450 students, will open a STEM and arts lab this fall.
- West Contra Costa Unified School District, serving more than 30,000 students near Richmond, California, will establish a flagship “Fab Lab” for students in the district as well as STEM Community Centers at each high school to expand parent and teacher interaction with making.
- More than 70 universities and colleges representing more than 1 million students, from Carnegie Mellon University to the University of Arizona, are doubling down on their efforts to expand Making on their campuses. These institutions, which include a diverse array of community colleges and public and private four-year universities of all sizes, in both a joint letter and individual letters to the President are each committing to expand their response to the President’s call to action on making. For example:
- Bucknell will open a central on-campus Bucknell MakerSpace, and host “maker jams” that will bring together students from engineering, arts, humanities and the social sciences.
- Case Western Reserve University will open the first phase of a 50,000 square foot makerspace and innovation center – named think[box] – for students, while expanding cross-campus efforts to engage students and community members from different disciplines in making, such as involvement of its law school’s intellectual property clinic.
- Cornell University’s College of Engineering will create a Makers’ Projects website to connect all of the maker and maker-like activities across Cornell and are sponsoring the “Pitch your Prototype” and the Intel-Cornell Cup competitions.
- Lorain County Community College (LCCC) will make its FabLab the forefront of its community-engagement strategy, and expand community access to its on-campus maker spaces.
- Santa Clara University will expand its Maker Lab with new equipment and a larger workspace, incorporating the lab as a pillar of its University Strategic Plan.
- The Yale Center for Engineering Innovation and Design will help its students use making to tackle challenges such as accessing clean drinking water, and remote monitoring of African farmland.
- University of Illinois, which has its MakerLab housed in its business school, is committing to expand its outreach to students and community members to get making and designing, which will include more than 100 workshops this coming year, expanded online offerings, and a new minor in digital making.
- Federal agencies are investing to expand access to spaces for students and entrepreneurs where they can design, prototype, and make. These announcements include:
- Department of Education will be launching a CTE Makeover Challenge this year to transform or create new “21st century maker spaces,” in conjunction with their career and technical education programs.
- Economic Development Administration (EDA) is spurring regional innovation by supporting the development of maker spaces equipped with the tools, mentors, and programs that allow them to rapidly design and prototype their ideas and bring them to market. Earlier this year, the i6 Challenge of the Regional Innovation Strategies Program issued $10 million in grants to 26 awardees focused on capacity building, including projects such as the I-20 Corridor Maker’s Innovation Network led by Louisiana Tech University.
- Institute of Museum and Library Services will work with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and other partners to create a framework for effective spaces for making and learning in museums and libraries. An e-publication highlighting the framework along with an online toolkit will be released by November 2015.
- Small Business Administration will, through its second round of its Growth Accelerator competition, encourage communities to include startup accelerators and maker-oriented workspaces in their regional entrepreneurship strategies, and encourage participating agencies in the $2.5B Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs to add Maker-specific topics to agency solicitations.
Additional Efforts in Response to the President’s Call to Action
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites proposals on how Making can contribute to STEM education, citizen engineering, and American innovation. Building on its prior leadership, NSF is announcing that it is inviting early concept grant proposals on potentially transformative ideas for research on or approaches for better understanding how Making can contribute to STEM education and broaden participation, empower citizen engineers, enhance their ability to take ideas from concept to prototype to market, and optimize the underlying technologies that drive the Maker movement for cost, ease of use, and functionality. In addition, in fall 2015, NSF will hold a Maker Summit in the Washington, DC metro area to catalyze the establishment of networks and communication channels among stakeholders in the Maker community.
- The Department of Education (ED) will expand Making in its 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program. Today, ED is announcing plans to expand the maker-focused technical assistance and professional development under its CCLC program by more than one third, reaching additional sites and states. The CCLC program is the Administration’s largest investment in afterschool and summer programming activities and serves more than 1.5 million students. Since January 2015, ED has been piloting an inter-agency collaboration with the Institute of Museum and Library Services focused on expanding STEM-rich tinkering and making in the CCLC program and serving 25 CCLC sites in California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. With programming developed by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, students are exposed to hands-on, mentor-led learning that focuses on design thinking, continued experimentation, and new tools.
- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is announcing a goal to support 1 million hours of volunteering by Federal employees in STEM and making-related activities. Building on the President’s call to action to the 200,000 Federal scientists and engineers to inspire the next generation of students, CNCS will work with an interagency team, including Excellence in Government Fellows, to promote policy guidance from the Office of Personnel Management related to volunteerism by Federal employees, identify agency-wide incentives to inspire participation in volunteerism, and highlight relevant opportunities on digital channels for Federal employees seeking STEM- and making-related volunteering opportunities. CNCS is also collaborating with The Connectory and All for Good in an effort to create a common digital space that connects dedicated, experienced STEM volunteers to local STEM programming. CNCS will also support AmeriCorps VISTA members in helping the creation and growth of local and regional STEM networks that will bring together both public and private employers. This new campaign will build on ongoing efforts to support STEM volunteering, such as the Department of Energy’s STEM Café’s, and CNCS’s STEM AmeriCorps initiative.
- Federal agencies will expand their efforts to engage teachers and students in Making. For example:
- The Smithsonian and the Patent and Trademark Office will host an Innovation Festival in late September at the National Museum of American History, celebrating the diversity of American innovation and inventors.
- The Department of Agriculture will build on the momentum from its first-ever 4-H Maker Youth Summit, which was held late 2014, with follow-on events at the 4-H Educator National Association Meeting planned for this October, 2015.
- Museums, libraries, non-profits, and companies will give more students and visitors the ability to access maker-oriented spaces, start projects, show their work, and meet Makers in their communities. For example:
- Changing Expectations, which will collaborate with Code.org to create a maker-oriented space for traditionally underserved students at an inner city library in the Austin, Texas area.
- Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, with educational support from Kickstarter, will launch a campaign to support makerspaces in schools, starting with 10 schools in the Pittsburgh region.
- Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago will expand its after-school Innovation Clubs program at its Wanger Family Fab Lab, create an equipment loan program to enable schools to try out DIY technologies before they buy their own; and will double the number of 3D printing workshops it offers each year, helping the lab reach 12,000 individuals.
- The New York Hall of Science is partnering with six museums and science centers to create a site, learnXdesign, dedicated to creating STEM-focused Making projects for educators around the country. The institutions collaborating on the site include the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio; Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.; Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts, ¡Explora! in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Telus Spark in Calgary, Canada.
- The North Carolina State University Libraries’ D.H. Hill Library, which serves more than 1.4 million users annually, will add a Makerspace to its facility this summer with tools such as 3D printers and scanners, sewing machines, and electronics equipment, along with a teaching and demonstration space.
- The Science Museum of Minnesota is launching “Making Connections Saturdays,” a monthly celebration of hands-on activities with local artists, crafters, fixers, and tinkerers from around the Twin Cities who are typically underrepresented in the maker movement.
- The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, will open a first-of-its-kind, interactive exhibit merging the worlds of making and biology.
- Infosys Foundation USA is launching a campaign to infuse Making into its philanthropic efforts. This includes launching of the new Infy Makers Awards, which will celebrate makers from across the United States who demonstrate creative excellence in projects with genuine impact, offering prizes in multiple categories for a total of $1 million. The program will include a youth sub-category, offering both schools and students the opportunity to compete for more than 200 prizes over the course of the year. Infosys Foundation USA is also announcing a partnership with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University to expand its Satellite Network community partnership program, which supports hands-on learning in 60 schools and 5,000 students in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and a partnership with DonorsChoose.org to support hands-on classroom technology projects benefiting another 10,000 students across the country. As a technology consulting company, Infosys will also leverage its more than 170,000 employees to support maker projects, starting with a recent employee-centered Maker Week and a series of global hackathons. These varied commitments aim to encourage the spirit of making, design and creation in everyday learning.
- This summer, Imagination Foundation will launch 60 new Imagination Chapters in the United States, and more than 100 worldwide. Inspired by the short film “Caine’s Arcade” and Global Cardboard Challenge, which has impacted 250,000 children from 60 countries, “Imagination Chapters” are volunteer-led learning spaces that foster creativity and 21st century skills through creative play. From cardboard to advanced electronics, the chapters provide a low-cost way to get students to design, build and invent.
- The Digital Harbor Foundation will expand the FabSLAM youth competition and educator training, benefiting 5,000 students. The Digital Harbor Foundation, in partnership with The Association of Science-Technology Centers and the Technology Councils of North America, will expand the FabSLAM youth competition and educator training, benefiting an estimated 5,000 students. Local science and technology centers will host Digital Harbor Foundation’s 3D Printing for Educators trainings and FabSLAM regional competitions with the support of local technology councils. The FabSLAM competition challenges teens to use the iterative process and 3D design and printing skills to tackle a real-world problem.
- Companies and non-profits are expanding students and educator access to making-related equipment, curricula, spaces, and other supports. For example:
- Autodesk‘s Project Ignite learning platform will enable teachers to easily bring Making into the classroom with 3D design, 3D printing, and electronics lessons such as Sketching Simple Circuits and Making Your Own Measurement Tools.
- BrainPOP, a resource for digital curricula, will make a number of its Maker-oriented offerings like Ada Lovelace, 3D Printing, Electric Circuits, and Robots freely available this summer and provide access to dozens of STEM games through its educational games portal GameUp.
- Inventables will donate 3D carving machines to at least one school in all 50 states.
- Teaching Garage, which focuses on increasing project-based learning in STEM, will grant unlimited teacher access to its curriculum at ten high-need elementary schools.
- TechShop, Fab Foundation, and Maker Media are part of growing community of non-profits and companies who plan to work with schools and libraries to create over 1,000 maker-oriented spaces in the next three years, through a mix of expert workshops and best practices playbooks.
- Non-profits are taking specific steps to broaden participation in science, STEM education and making via expanded access to equipment, media partnerships, and youth-centered events. This includes:
- BioBuilder@LabCentral, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will establish a dedicated physical teaching laboratory that will expand public access to state-of-the-art bioengineering curricula, training, facilities, and on-line resources to more than 1,000 students and hundreds of teachers per year.
- Biodidact, a community-based biotechnology lab in New Mexico that wants to democratize science, will launch a new program on antibiotic resistance and engage students on the topic with hands-on maker projects.
- Digital Harbor Foundation, building on the reopening of the closed South Baltimore Rec Center, will help other communities interested in replicating its “Rec to Tech” model with resources, documentation, and training.
- The HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Initiative (I.C.E.) is establishing a network and resource center for faculty and students to expand Making on campuses of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
- Maker Ed and Cognizant will expand the Young Makers program by placing regional coordinators at youth-serving organizations nationwide. Young Makers pairs children ages 8-18 with mentors to create a youth-chosen project for exhibition.
- Project M@CH, the first maker space in a children’s hospital, will work with New York Hall of Science to expand the number of medical institutions that offer young patients access to hands-on learning and making opportunities that are both educational and therapeutic.
- Raspberry Pi Foundation, in partnership with Computer History Museum, will bring Picademy, its educator training workshop to the United States, starting by giving 100 K-12 educators free, in-person professional development related to tinkering, coding and supporting project-based learning.
- STEM Funders Network (SFN) has recently launched an initiative to build STEM learning ecosystems in 25 communities around the country in 2015 and add 25 more each year for three years. SFN is committing to insuring that each of the communities selected in the ecosystem project will develop and implement a robust, hands on project based Maker component.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will help more Makers go pro. Through its nationwide network of MEP Centers that focuses on providing business and technical assistance services to small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturers, the NIST MEP will help more students, hobbyists, first-time entrepreneurs, and other hardware-centric makers acquire the technical knowledge needed to quickly iterate prototypes and scale up production. Working with established networks of Makers, such as Techshops and the Fab Lab Network, and others involved in fostering maker communities, the MEP Centers will assist makers with considerations such as choices of materials, suppliers, product designs, production processes, potential markets, and business models, and the challenges of rapid ramp up of production. MEP will also work with the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers, which support an average of nearly 1,000 manufacturing start-ups annually.
- The Patent and Trademark Office will help more Makers protect their intellectual property. USPTO will host a workshop series for makers, small-scale manufacturers, inventors, and authors who want reliable information and educational resources on intellectual property topics relevant to small business owners, in select cities starting with locations in Washington, DC; Baltimore, Maryland; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Etsy will expand its craft entrepreneurship program to 30 cities by June 2016. Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship program teaches unemployed and underemployed adults with artistic skills how to monetize their talents online, using Etsy’s e-commerce platform as a learning lab. Participants learn skills like pricing, product photography, and search engine optimization, and apply these skills to their individual online shops. More than 500 online shops have already been created as a result of the program, and Etsy is announcing plans to expand to 30 cities by next summer. This expansion includes Southeastern Kentucky, a recently designated Promise Zone. In addition, Etsy will organize regional roundtables among Etsy sellers and local government representatives, and will use those listening sessions to document best practices for other local leaders that want to foster greater entrepreneurship in their communities.
- Growing community of companies are empowering more Makers to make the leap to entrepreneurship. For example:
- Brit + Co, an online DIY community of more than 12 million, is announcing a new #IAMCREATIVE fund, with the goal of empowering more women and girls with the resources, expert support, and encouragement they need to take on ambitious, creative endeavors. Four times a year, Brit + Co will offer up to five grants between $2,500 and $15,000 to help women kickstart their creative projects, with any woman or girl over 13 eligible to apply.
- Trimble is expanding sponsorship of open-source development initiatives including Wikihouse and OpenDesk.
- West Elm will develop a Maker Toolkit, a resource guide informed by West Elm’s partnerships with the entrepreneurs in the maker community, designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs learn best practices for everything from accounting to marketing.
Building Regional Maker Ecosystems
- Following on from last year’s Mayor’s Maker Challenge, more than 20 cities are launching major efforts to support Makers. In advance of last year’s White House Maker Faire, the Manufacturing Alliance of Communities launched a Maker Mayors Challenge to encourage local governments across America to take concrete steps to promote the Maker Movement. These local efforts have continued to expand. For example:
- Anderson, Indiana, in collaboration with Purdue University and the Flagship Enterprise Center, will build a 90,000 square foot facility – to be called the Purdue Polytechnic Institute – that will include a 12,000 square foot maker space and a 35,000 square foot industrial incubator.
- Atlanta will work with Community Guilds, an Atlanta nonprofit, to expand access to STE(A)M Truck, a mobile maker space, and provide programming at a Boys and Girls Club on the west side of Atlanta.
- Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh Makers and Maker-focused organizations are organizing a regional cluster to strengthen the ties among their local efforts, beginning with regional site visits to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas, and development of an open sharing platform to document promising models.
- Columbus Makes IT will open its first makerspace in an 8,000 square foot warehouse space, in collaboration with local entrepreneurs, the River Valley Regional Commission and the Georgia Technology Authority.
- Gainesville, Florida, with leadership from Tech Toy Box, a local non-profit, will open a 27,000 square foot facility focused on small batch manufacturing in the United States, with companies housed on site that will share equipment.
- Houston will launch “District Make,” a public campaign to highlight the city’s two largest makerspaces, hundreds of art studios, and its arts district.
- Indianapolis, with leadership from Riley Area Development Corporation, Pattern Magazine and People for Urban Progress, will open RUCKUS, a 25,000 square foot makerspace in the next eight months, which is expected to be a pillar of the area’s overall industrial redevelopment strategy, offering a mix of services to local inventors, designers, artisans, photographers, craftspeople, and engineers.
- Lima, Ohio will launch LINK Lima, an initiative aimed at identifying entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and displaced workers in the region.
- Oakland, California will launch a “Made in Oakland” campaign later this year, which is in line with the incoming Mayor’s inaugural platform, and will be developed in close consultation with a diverse community of Oakland Makers that includes food and beverage manufacturers, fabricators, furnishings producers, and others.
- Pittsburgh will publish the Mayor’s Innovation Roadmap later this year, which will include an emphasis on Making. In addition, the Sprout Fund will premiere the Remake Learning Playbook, a collection of more than 30 strategies and tactics for educators and leaders interested in building a local network of institutions committed to making and 21st century learning.
- Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate will work with the maker community to crowdsource and prototype a Maker Map. The goal of the mapping effort is to create a visual resource that allows civic maker groups, educators, entrepreneurs, government makers, and others to discover the makerspaces, tools, and other resources that are in their region. The mapping effort will begin with a set of Maker Map civic hackathons and user testing.
- Made Right Here will expand its Maker Professional Apprenticeship program to 20 cities across the United States. Started in Pittsburgh with support from the Department of Labor, the Maker Professional Apprenticeship program provides individuals with the training and support to learn 21st century skills in digital design, fabrication and manufacturing. Training takes place in maker spaces, with program participants working closely with startup companies that aim to produce their products locally. Over the next five years, Made Right Here will expand its program to 20 cities including Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Sacramento, St. Louis, Tulsa, and Tampa.
- Mozilla will launch maker-oriented Mozilla Clubs in 500 cities around the world by the end of 2015. Building on its over 2,500 global Maker Party events that took place in 450 cities and 86 countries in 2014, Mozilla is announcing a new Mozilla Clubs initiative. Mozilla Clubs are envisioned as local groups that will provide opportunities for makers, mentors, and learners to get together on a regular basis and improve their digital skills through making both online and offline.
- The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) will include at least ten Makers in the agency’s visual arts panels over the next fiscal year. All grant applications to the NEA are reviewed by panels of artists and laypeople who assess applications for artistic excellence and merit. The NEA looks forward to inviting individuals to serve as panelists, starting with those who are participating in the National Week of Making.
- The Re:Imagine Group and Maker Media are collaborating to launch a platform and playbook for cities interested in expanding making in their communities. The web platform will allow cities around the country to share their unique narratives about how the Maker Movement has taken shape and had an economic, educational, and social impact in their communities, and a Playbook, to be released later this year, will share best practices and models for building out an infrastructure for Making locally.
Challenging Makers to Tackle Challenges Local and Global
- USAID will build on its Makers for Development catalog, with a new online marketplace to incubate and grow new ideas. USAID believes that the growing U.S. Maker community can contribute novel and low-cost solutions to many of the world’s greatest development challenges. Examples of such solutions range from a $1 “print-and-fold” microscope that could be used to do field-based citizen science, low-cost 3D prosthetics to assist patients, water sensors for farmers, or traffic counters in rapidly growing urban centers. Building on its support for the Global Fab Award and its Makers for Development catalog, later this year USAID will launch a web-based marketplace to challenge the Maker community to build, test, and scale innovations that support the world’s most stressed populations. In addition, through local and international collaborations, the World Bank is supporting a plastics recycling FabLab in Tanzania, organizing hardware-based open innovation competitions in countries including Ghana and Mongolia, and introducing hands-on making techniques in classrooms in Lebanon to promote 21st-century skills.
- Navy is expanding access to maker spaces where its sailors can expand and refine their own ideas and test them out. Navy has embraced a fabrication lab program to empower more sailors to become makers and tinkerers. These risk tolerant innovation centers contain both advanced additive and subtractive capabilities, training and workshops to assist sailors in thinking differently and innovatively, and serve as a one-stop shop for design, testing, and construction of parts and full-functioning projects. Starting with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) and Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Oceania in Virginia, sailors are using the Fab Labs to generate ideas on how to overcome their own challenges at their larger I-Level maintenance shops and eventually the Fleet.
- NASA is releasing a request for proposals (RFP) for launch services using small-class launch vehicles that can carry CubeSats, nanosatellites, and other small payloads into orbit. At present, launch opportunities for small satellites – often called CubeSats or nanosatellites – and small science missions are mostly limited to ride-share type arrangements on medium or large launch vehicles, flying only when space is available on NASA and other major launches. NASA’s RFP will provide an alternate option for these smaller satellites to reach space.
- New partnerships to expand access to 3D-printed prosthetics and assistive technologies, including:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committing to build an open library of 3D-printable prosthetics and assistive technologies. The VA Center for Innovation is announcing plans to upload to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 3D Print Exchange the designs collected through its Innovation Creation Series, as well as its Prosthetic + Assistive Technology Challenge. The VA expects the creation of hundreds of open-sourced designs from this current and planned future challenges. Since launching last year, the NIH 3D Print Exchange has expanded its resources to include more than 5,000 models from proteins and viruses to custom labware and anatomical models to be used for research and education.
- Google.org has issued a challenge to Makers to develop innovative solutions for individuals with disabilities, starting with a $20 million impact fund. The $20 million Google Impact Challenge is part of a broader initiative from Google.org to expand support for efforts that crowdsource the creativity and innovation of Makers in order to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Already funded include: (1) The Enable community, which connects people who want prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to design, print, assemble, and fit them, for free, and (2) the Veterans Affairs (VA) Creation Innovation Series, which aims to accelerate development of personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans with disabilities.
- 3D Systems is partnering with the Enable Community Foundation to make it possible for Makers in over 100 libraries and museums to design and develop low-cost 3D printed prosthetics. 3D Systems will make tutorials, curriculum, and digital designs for prosthetics available to museums and libraries throughout the U.S. via its MakerLab Clubs, and will work with select universities to create 3D Digital Design Labs to accelerate the development of these assistive technologies.
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) will launch a newly expanded version of Engineering for Change (E4C). E4C is a global community of over 24,000 organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting affordable, sustainable and accessible technology-based solutions for underserved communities worldwide. This new version will launch in August of 2015 with a Solutions Library of innovations focused on poverty alleviation.