In a few days' time, the Biggest Little Makers team consisting of current undergraduate student Carlos Bean and 2018 graduates Daniel Smith, Natali Salas-España and John Kirkpatrick will endure a grueling 48-hour Make48 College Challenge at the Stanley Black & Decker Makerspace in Towson, Maryland. The competing student teams will develop and prototype a new product idea; the competition begins when the topic is revealed at noon on Aug. 10, and concludes when the team presents to a panel of judges during the closing ceremony on Aug. 12.
For the past month the Biggest Little Makers have made the Makerspace at the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center-Powered By Switch, located at 450 Sinclair St., their headquarters and training facility, an experience they believe is unique to their team. On Thursday, Aug. 2, the team went through their second and final mock run before heading out to the real event in Maryland.
At the Innevation Center, the student team had access to many of the kinds of tools they will be using at the competition, including 3D printers, state-of-the-art graphic design programs and machine workshops. However, their most important resource might be the support and encouragement from the staff at the Innevation Center, including Crystal Harvey, Makerspace manager and the team's primary mentor. Smith described the Innevation Center team as being "completely accommodating."
"I think we are ready to go and do well," said Salas-España.
Win or lose, the team believes that being chosen and participating in the event will bring recognition to Reno since the Make48 competition is broadcast nationally. "A lot of people really don't know where Reno is," said Bean.
The Reno team is one of twelve universities chosen to participate, which they consider a huge honor in itself. They will compete against some of the top engineering universities in the country, including Tulane, Rice and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Biggest Little Maker team will be part of season 3 of the Make48 program, which is their first ever college edition of the show. Team members were chosen out of large pool of applicants; they were chosen to create a strong and diverse team, with Smith and Kirkpatrick being the only ones who knew each other before the team was assembled. The Biggest Little Maker team is being sponsored by ClickBond, University of Nevada, Reno's College of Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno's Research & Innovation and Innevation Center members Michael Ackermann and Ryan McMaster.
Backed by industry leaders like Stanley Black & Decker, Ace Hardware and QVC, Make48 is an invention competition and documentary series that gives the competitors 48 hours to come up with an idea, a prototype and marketing strategy and then pitch their idea to judges. The remainder of the series takes the three winning teams through the process of trying to get their product to market. Season 2 begins airing in September 2018 on PBS/APT (American Public Television) stations across the country including KNPB in western Nevada. For more information visit Make48.com.