Monday, January 12, 2015

Seven Lessons From the Maker Fest, India 2015

Uncertain. Unsure but filled with extreme excitement and curiosity,  I made my way to the airport, to attend the Maker Fest 2015 in Ahmedabad on 9th January, 2015.

What is the Maker Fest?

A community of really fun people making cool things and,

…… ‘The Maker fest is not just another technology event, but a global social movement where people like you and me who invent things informally get a chance to showcase, collaborate, form community and dream about making our world a better place, with our inventions, ideas and network. Our vision is to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship in India at the grassroots level. I’ve attended the California Maker Faire with my children for many years so I’ve seen the impact it can have. Maker Faires are filled with people like you and me who are just making things at home and when they get the chance to share their projects and find collaborators, great new products and companies emerge. We hope this will be the first of many events, and that Maker Fest will spread across India to showcase makers, tinkerers, and do-ers of every stripe.
– Asha Jadeja
Mission and Vision

‘Learn. Do. Share’

Activities and Venue

The Festival had 20 workshops, 8 speakers, and over 100 makers exhibiting their work at the venue. The venue of the Fest this year was an educational institute called the CEPT University. Here is their mission statement, ‘CEPT University focuses on understanding, designing, planning, constructing and managing human habitats.’ It is a beautiful campus. Spacious and well designed. Perfect for learning. There was great food too.

Here are 7 Lessons I Learned at the Maker Fest this year:-

1.     Build a Community – The Maker Fest is the annual gathering of makers from all across the country. It is an incredible learning environment. Makers may be interested in textiles, technology or origami. But makers help each other, encourage each other and also contribute back to the community. Read more about the Maker Fest on their bloghere

2.     Share Resources – One of the exhibits at the festival was the Makers Asylum from Mumbai. The founder Vaibhav Chabra spoke about their mission statement which was, ‘To provide artists, engineers, musicians, doctors, architects and hobbyists with the tools and technology in a physical space to collaborate and fuel the spark of Innovation.’ If you want to make things, you do not have to buy all the things, you can find a Maker Space closeby, contribute to the community, and use their tools to make things. If you are in Mumbai, find outmore about the Asylum here

3.     Break Something + Make Something – I attended a workshop at the festival by Vineet Srivastava where we had to break and build a loudspeaker. Vineet made us break some loud speakers to understand how it is made. Then he asked us to rebuild a prototype based on our observations. It was super fun breaking and re-making

4.     Be Patient I attended a braiding workshop by Craftsman Mr Errol. He gave me a bunch of colored ropes and thought me how to tie knots and braid them into patterns. It was a simple exercise, but you had to be very focused on the activity, so that you did not miss any knot in between. I braided for two hours in this workshop on the second day. It was easily one of the best learning experiences of my life. Making takes time and you have to be patient and passionate about your project.

5.     Create Beautiful Learning EnvironmentsThe Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation has also helped setup a Fabrication Lab at the CEPT University in Ahmedabad. This space is open to the public and has equipment that includes a 3-DPrinter, 3D Laser Scanner, CNC Router, Vinyl Cutter, Laser Cutter and Milling Machine. I attended two workshops at the Lab this year and also explored the space. Read this article by Sickle Innovations Founder, Nitin Gupta about his experience at the lab to understand what the lab is all about.

6.     Age does not Matter, Passion doesThere were over 40 exhibits at the Maker Exhibition at the fest. Most of the makers were college students. Many came from design and engineering backgrounds. But most of them were young. There was a 9 year old inventor working on EEG sensors, an engineering student that made the Batman Bike, a maker from Bangladesh that made a tool to help blind people read text on the digital platform and to navigate around the place and many more. See a list of the makers here.

Technology is a Maker Tool I realized at the end of the festival that Basic Technical Knowledge for making things can be acquired easily by a non-technical person. The festival got me really excited about making things.  I wanted to collect old recycled material, and buy an arduino and raspberry pie set as soon as possible. I had a conversation with an engineering student at the festival and he told me that figuring out how to use embedded systems, learning basic coding and using your hands to make things are skills that anyone can pick up with some focused time. I attended two technical workshops at the festival In the first one, a Maker Rohit gupta gave us a basic introduction about how we can use the MSP430 Microcontrollers to create projects. In the second workshop we learned how to use Rasberry Pi to build a temperature sensing system. There is a very supportive Rasberry Pi Community on the web from which you can learn from her.

@FabLab, CEPT University

If I had to summarize my experience and insights from two days at the Maker Fest this year, it would go like this,

‘Stop Thinking. Start Making’

Let us Learn Together
Tweet @AbhishekShetty_

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