Maker Faire Detroit makes a mark
Major Gen. Nick Justice, Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general talks with a group of students involved in the robotics competition at Maker Faire Detroit July 31.

DEARBORN, Mich. -- As Maker Faire Detroit becomes a memory, a glow continues to burn in the hearts and minds of all who took part.

Held July 31-Aug. 1 at the spacious Henry Ford here, organizers described the event as "a family fun festival to make, create, learn, invent, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology."

The venue was ideal for visitors as $28 tickets to Maker Faire included entry to The Henry Ford, the world's premiere history destination and a National Historic Landmark that celebrates American history and innovation.

The Maker Faire organization wanted to come to Detroit, calling it the home of American ingenuity. This was the first Maker Faire to be held outside California and drew more than 20,000 visitors, according to Dale Dougherty, editor of MAKE Magazine and coordinator for Maker Faire Detroit.

Rumors are the union between Maker Faire and The Henry Ford was so successful that they've inked a deal for the faire to return to Dearborn for the next five years.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is also committed to Maker Faire. During the command's first exhibit at Maker Faire Detroit - called the Army Technology Zone -- Maj. Gen. Nick Justice confirmed the command's support.

"We are the makers of Army technology," Justice said to an audience in Anderson Theater in The Henry Ford. "Being at Maker Faire is an opportunity for us to show all the creative tinkerers and inventive do-it-yourselfers what we're doing to give the American Warfighter superiority on the battlefield.

"We will continue to support Maker Faire," Justice added.

The Army Technology Zone was brimming with activity during Maker Faire. A robotics competition kicked things off with three high school teams and three middle school teams vying for honors. Judging the robots and their functions were RDECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, Senior Robotics Scientist Dr. James Overholt, Maker Faire's Mark Frauenfelder, and Bernard Theissen from the Tank, Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, who also coordinated the event.

The seven teams came from two countries (United States and Canada) and three states (Michigan, Ohio and Indiana). The Geekabytes, from Plymouth Christian Academy, and their robotic black jack dealer won the middle school competition. The high school exhibition was won by the Galactic Hamsters and their robotic game of tag. A "People's Choice Award" went to an audience selection -- the Bobbers -- for their robotic buoy that samples pollution in rivers.

Other teams taking part were: the Artemis Project who built a robot with an auto tracking and targeting system on a mobile platform; the Geek Squad who built four robots to simulate a town run off green energy; Homemade Titanium with a low cost robot for detecting and marking land mines; and the Trojan Bots with robotic recycling into a hopper that detects and sorts recyclable materials.

The second morning of Maker Faire, RDECOM Soldiers Sgt. 1st Class Eric Scheidt, Staff Sgt. Javier Velazquez and Sgt. Carl Philpott were asked to start the "Life-size Mousetrap," a 25-ton replication of the board game from the 1960s. Mousetrap maker Mark Perez created what he calls "the largest Rube Goldberg machine ever built," and patriotically introduced the Soldiers to several hundred visitors before they rolled the dice to start the game. Perez is a former Soldier himself, a combat medic.

The Army Technology Zone featured the latest Army advancements.

Members of the command's educational outreach effort greeted visitors and informed them of internships and scholastic opportunities within the Department of Defense and U.S. Army.

An interactive robot obstacle course engaged visitors of all ages. Sgt. Star, a fast talking Army avatar, answered visitor questions about the Army. Touch screen technology, lighter armor materials technology and multi-touch enabled technology were highly visited displays.

The latest combat rations were displayed by developers from the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. A hybrid Humvee and the Advanced Ground Mobility Vehicle were showstoppers as many visitors stopped to have their pictures taken inside the turret.

People interested in this event will get another chance to see it all at an even bigger venue. The World Maker Faire will take place at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, N.Y., Sept. 25-26.

Page last updated Fri September 9th, 2011 at 14:47