Maker Faires exhibit makerspace technology to congressmen and public

Students and faculty represent University of Nevada, Reno at National and Capitol Hill Maker Faire

Maker Faires exhibit makerspace technology to congressmen and public

Students and faculty represent University of Nevada, Reno at National and Capitol Hill Maker Faire

Faculty members and nine students, from across a wide range of disciplines, traveled to Washington D.C., from the University of Nevada, Reno and the DeLaMare Library to represent at the first-ever Capitol Hill Maker Faire followed by the first-ever National Maker Faire.

The University was named one of the most interesting makerspaces in America by Make Magazine in 2014. A makerspace is an area that appeals to the spirit of invention by providing tools and resources for people to discover, create, design, model, engineer and learn. Both the Capitol Hill Maker Faire and the National Maker Faire gave the students the opportunity to demonstrate new technology to both members of congress and to the public.

"As representatives of both the University and the State of Nevada, we were able to tell the story and share hands-on examples of the innovation happening across the campus and into the greater community," Tod Colegrove, the head of the DeLaMare Library, said. "It truly brings the '21st-century approach to the land-grant mission' to life."

The students, Chrissy Klenke, a librarian at the DeLaMare, and Colegrove attended the Capitol Hill Maker Faire hosted by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services June 11 in the Rayburn House Office Building. The goal of the Capitol Hill Maker Faire was to expose members of Congress to the new innovations such as 3D printers, 3D handheld scanners, Google Glasses, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, MaKey MaKey kits, and much more.

"A library is a place that provides information resources and resources to enable knowledge creation, but those resources are not always a book," Colegrove said. "A laser cutter, a 3D printer and a handheld scanner are all examples of critical path technology."

Colegrove spoke as a panelist at the Capitol Hill Maker Faire about, "Making, the Economy and Workforce Development" to an audience of Congress members, their staff and federal funding agencies.

"What was most impressive, there were three different heads of funding agencies who were just beside themselves," Colegrove said. "They were not just impressed at what we as a University are doing, but they were impressed by the students. They have such amazing skills."

The students had less than three weeks to prepare for the two Maker Faires, and worked as a team to transport, set-up and demonstrate the technology available through the DeLaMare Library. While students paid their own way to attend, funds from the Friends of the University Libraries Endowment helped defray some of the expenses, making the trip possible.

Maker Faire
Tod Colegrove, University students Kyle
Teran, Sierra Gonzales, U.S. Senator
Harry Reid, Colegrove's wife Denise
Quon and student Ryan Bayfield.

On the trip, the students and faculty had the opportunity to have coffee with Nevada U.S. Senator Reid, along with other Nevadans who were visiting the Capitol.

"(Reid) called us out immediately and talked about what we are doing at the University of Nevada, Reno and then after the gathering they sent us off with staff to give us the grand tour of the Capitol Building," Colegrove said.

The group also represented the State of Nevada at the National Maker Faire hosted by University of the District of Columbia. The two-day National Maker Faire had representation from all 50 states and was open to the public.

"A big difference that I saw between the Capital Hill Maker Faire and National Maker Faire was going from showing and explaining the technology to Congressmen and telling them it how it is important to a completely different atmosphere where all of these kids who are half my age are telling me different ways to use the technology that I didn't even know about," Steven McCaffrey, a DeLaMare student worker majoring in accounting, said.

According to the University students who were at the Maker Fair, this technology is very attractive to inspiring creativity in K-12 students who are able to easily adapt and engage with the different technology.  

"If I was 10 year old and I saw this technology, I would probably have way more ideas now as a 20-year-old," Sierra Gonzales, a DeLaMare student worker majoring in mechanical engineering, said.

"The more people are exposed to this technology the more ideas that develop and the better technology that comes out."

The group was awarded the blue ribbon "Maker of Merit" at the National Faire for demonstrating great creativity, ingenuity and innovation for their Maker Faire project.

While many people are still unaware of the resources the DeLaMare Library makes available to students, faculty and members of the community, Colegrove and the staff see students using the resources every day to bring their ideas to life.

"I love working in this place," Colegrove said as he looked around at students busy using the 3D scanners, printers and more in the DeLaMare. "Because, we are right now in the middle of summer session and this place should be dead, but instead, you can't walk from one room to the other without literally tripping over ideas."

To learn more about the DeLaMare Library and its resources, visit www.delamare.unr.edu.

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