Maker Faire, the 12-year-old movable showcase for people who make their own cool stuff using digital tools, will set up for the first time in Philadelphia, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 24 at Pennovation Works, the Penn Engineering outpost at 3401 Grays Ferry Ave.
The "mini-Maker Faire," as NextFab founder Evan Malone calls it, is "a large-scale public event" joining advocates for digital workforce development, apprenticeships, STEM education, and "entrepreneurial ecosystem issues."
Getting this show to Philly is "a major milestone in the growth of Philadelphia's maker community," Malone told me. He promised "a showcase of inventions, spectacular creations, crafts, new technology, and local tech start-ups with the goal of inspiring citizens of all ages to take innovation into their own hands and to connect with and learn from each other." There's room for more, and you can apply at http://philly.makerfaire.com/call-for-makers/.
Dale Dougherty, Maker Faire's Bay Area guru, has set up events totaling hundreds of makers each in San Mateo, Calif., New York, Tokyo, Detroit, Kansas City, and the U.K. He warmed to the idea of a mini-Philadelphia edition last fall after powwowing with folks at Malone's NextFab, TechGirlz, Pennovation, and speaking for a group of tech-minded officials at City Hall, says Marvin Weinberger, founder of Innovation Factory (they make Trucker's Friend hand tools) and past Infonautics and CDNow developer, who also heads the Philadelphia Makers Meetup group.
Weinberger, who sees the maker movement as a grassroots, garage-and-rehabbed-brick-factory approach to expanding on Philadelphia's grand industrial past as "Workshop to the World," calls MakerFaire "a showcase of inventors, artists, start-ups, garage tinkerers, crafters, science clubs, and others who like to get their hands dirty making things" and show off how they do it, drafting attendees for workshops and demonstrations. "Expect to see drones, robots, glassblowing, fashion, textiles, electronics, ceramics, 3D printing, biotechnology, and much more."
Electrical engineer Bruce Willner (Graphene Frontiers, and formerly of Sarnoff Corp.) will cochair the event and serve as its executive director. Organizers also include Charlie Affel from Hive76, plus the groups noted above, which are setting up live maker demonstrations, hands-on workshops, and "performance art." They hope to sign up at least "100 makers of all kinds, from hobbyists to hardware start-ups to local hacking clubs. Sponsorship info is at https://philly.makerfaire.com/sponsorship/. See also https://www.meetup.com/Makers-Meetup.
Sooner than that — at 5:30 p.m. May 24 at NextFab's central location, 2025 Washington Ave. (it's also in Northern Liberties and Wilmington) — NextFab will celebrate the conclusion of its fourth Rapid Hardware Acceleration Program, investing up to $25,000 each in four local start-ups:
Augean Robotics: Harvard MBA Charles Andersen's Phoenixville firm builds small-scale farm robotics.
Hexmodal Technologies: Penn grad Christopher Hariz's firm builds a device to test and report on emergency exit lights.
InstaHub: Wharton student Michael Wong makes snap-on energy-saving equipment.
RightAir: Marek Swoboda's firm at Drexel develops a wearable respiratory assistance system.