With the advent of technological advancements in designing and manufacturing technologies, the world of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and artists is changing. In an effort to promote awareness and access to these technologies, the White House created the Nation of Makers initiative in 2014, and the University of Nevada, Reno's own Christina Klenke, the Earth Science and Map librarian at the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library, has been invited to attend this year's National Makers Fair in Washington, D.C. as the representative for Nevada.
Klenke is known in her role at the library as a facilitator of innovation amongst students and community members alike, according to Tod Colegrove, head of DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library. It was her work not only at DeLaMare, but as one of the six organizers of the Bay Area Makers Faire that led her to become Nevada's voice at the national celebration of making.
"In chemistry it's called a catalyst and platinum is the catalyst in a catalytic converter," Colegrove said. "If that catalyst is present, then a chemical reaction happens. Chrissy is a catalyst in the library. Otherwise people would come in and not know what to do. All of a sudden this person comes along and starts bumping people into each other and encouraging people and this magic happens. That magic is exactly why Chrissy was one of the six people that produced the Bay Area Maker Faire, and now she's being invited to the White House because she has that magic."
The National Maker Fair hosts makers from around the country in addition to a variety of federal agencies in order to foster learning and creativity in the rapidly evolving field of making technologies. Attendees of last year's Fair saw presentations from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, National Endowment for the Arts, NASA and several more entities. According to Klenke, it's an opportunity unlike anything else.
With the national initiative's continued success, it has been expanded to include a national Week of Making and the third annual National Maker Fair, an event that brings together makers from across the country and includes various federal agencies. Klenke believes the continued support of makers both locally and federally is the key to helping students identify themselves as makers and to becoming part of the movement.
"It also helps for some people who don't really realize they're makers," Klenke said. "Something we're doing here locally, and as part of the national initiative, is to bring out what they never thought they could do by soldering something together, creating a tote bag or designing a sticker. It's these types of activities that are fun and teach different types of skills they can then apply to bigger projects whether it's for school or just designing something. "
The University is no stranger to innovative makerspaces. It was recognized as one of the most interesting makerspaces in America by Make Magazine in 2014. The DeLaMare Science & Engineering Library is home to 3D printing and scanning, laser and vinyl cutters, and soldering and sewing equipment in its makerspace. The space allows students and community members to gather and create in the vein of John Seely Brown's theory of creative abrasion, where every idea is the jumping off point for something inventive, according to Colegrove.
In supporting this brand of communal ingenuity, Klenke and Colegrove are looking toward a cultural shift to making in America once again.
"I think we're kind of coming back to this industrial, not necessarily the industrial revolution, but making this circle in coming back to the time when people made things," Klenke said. "They were makers instead of just consumers. We've turned into consumers, and now people are coming back to the DIY culture, do it yourself, so the future of making is just the blend of all of this."
Both the University and the White House are looking toward a future in which makers have access to the cutting edge technology they need to make a difference. The National Week of Making, June 17-23, is comprised of activities geared toward making in towns across the country to help promote that love and learning of STEM education, a cause Klenke has taken a particular interest in.
The DeLaMare Library is hosting weeklong events to celebrate the spirit of the initiative. The events range from making tote bags and stickers to learning 3D modeling and scanning. Demos will begin at 1:30 p.m. and an open house will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, June 20-23. The University libraries and the Innevation Center Powered by Switch will also be participating in the Reno Mini Maker Faire at Idlewild Park on Saturday, July 9.
For more information about the week's events, visit the national Week of Making's event page.