Get yer maker on! Maker Expo 2016 is Sept 10

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Oh happy day! I am completely delighted to announce Maker Expo 2016 coming to you September 10, 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Kitchener City Hall. Put that in your calendar right now and tell two friends.

I’m equally excited to announce the kick-off our our sponsorship campaign with my sponsor-loving pal, Ravi Baboolal. The Expo may be free to attend, but stuff costs money and we need your help to support hands-on workshops like this Learn To Solder centre pictured above from last year. 7500 aspiring makers of Waterloo Region came to the Expo last year, rolled up their sleeves and learned new skills and took away a bucketful of inspiration. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to support your community than helping us encourage local makers. To be sure we can get your dollars to work on workshops, we are running this sponsorship campaign through to May 1, 2016. So, as they say: act now! DW (that’s me) is standing by to take your call. More details on our Sponsors page. A few words from last year’s sponsors:

“What a tremendous event for Conestoga! Maker Expo provided non-stop opportunity for our students in the IEEE and Robotics Innovation Group to showcase their 3D printed humanoid robot project, and they gained tremendous value speaking with the general public and industry representatives who came through the event. Thanks to all at Maker Expo for providing such a great venue to highlight our strength in the maker movement!”
Ig Kolenko, Chair, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Conestoga College

“By all accounts from the buzz leading up to and during the day, a tremendous success.  Congratulations to you and the Maker Expo team! The University of Waterloo is proud to participate in such high impact community engagement.”
Kelly McManus, Senior Director, Community Relations & Events, University of Waterloo

“I just wish I could have videotaped the faces of the students when they brought me their Maker ‘contracts’. They didn’t just find the experience of connecting with a Maker fun and engaging, they loved the Expo – it really got them inspired and excited. What a fabulous learning experience for them. And without all your efforts it never would have happened. Thanks!!”

Laura Allan,
Assistant Professor,
Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, Laurier University
(Maker Expo worked with Laura to connect her entrepreneur students with makers as part of the curriculum)

If you want to stay connected to what’s going on with ME2016, please follow us on Twitter, or like our Facebook page, or follow on Instagram or sign up for our email list.

Now that you’ve read the TL;DR, allow me to recap a little and talk about what’s happening in Maker Expo Land…

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It’s (only) been four months since our massively successful 2015 event, and it’s time to get cracking with the next Expo. September 10 may seem like a long way off, but calendars are already booking up in this dynamic region of ours, so there’s no time to waste. The Maker Expo Extraordinary Planners (MEEPs as I call them) held their first meetup last Thursday and are already mapping out a great new event. I just checked back on our post-event survey results and 93.65% of you said you would join in if we did another Expo, so here we go.

Click through for lots more…

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On the topic of surveying, we got lots of great feedback from the community and we’ll be using that to make this year’s event even better. Repeating a round of ME in the very excellent Kitchener City Hall is going to free up a lot of our brain cycles to focus on tuning aspects of the show beyond the basic necessities like “where do we put everyone?” We heard you when you said some better navigational assistance would be helpful to find the cool stuff you’re looking for. We’re on it.

There’s Liana Kreamer of the Little Libraries KW crew. Such a good thing.

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Something that surprised me personally last year was the unbridled enthusiasm of our volunteers. I’m not just saying that because my daughter Arden (above left) and her ninja posse worked the event. It was a great spirit of engagement across all our volunteers and exhibiting makers and that was so infectious. It got our visitors fired up and excited about making and really that’s what this is all about.

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There’s Ravi (right) talking BotBrawl with…

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I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be talking about this, but I think Ravi will have something to say about BotBrawl and the Expo real soon now.

Matt Smith –

Remember the Mayoral Robot Battle? We were super-happy to have the support of (L-R crouched) Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Cambridge Councillor Pam Wolf and Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky. Not only did they come out to the Expo to drive borrowed bots, they also were great sports to help us with our tongue-in-cheek Expo promotion. Only in Waterloo Region could you roll in to City Hall and throw a 150lbs robot up on the boardroom table. Thank you!

“Wow!  The event was a phenomenal success!  I was more than pleased to have been able to join you for at least a small part of it.  Congrats to you and your entire team on seeing your vision come to fruition and thank you for all of your efforts.  I am already looking forward to next year’s events.  Maybe we’re ready to grow it to a 2-day event in 2016!!”
-Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic

“Maker Expo was a great ‎family-friendly event which brought out the Geek in all of us. I loved the Bot Brawl and my six year old granddaughter learned to solder, braid, and many other things. She did not want to leave! We will definitely be back next year!”
-Cambridge Councillor Pam Wolf

“Maker Expo is great fun for the entire family.  It inspires the hidden creator in all of us, and most importantly, our children.”
-Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky

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I know what you’re thinking: “Maybe *I* should apply to be an exhibiting maker?!” Well, my friend, we’ll get to that soon enough. Our focus right now is on sponsors, but we hope everybody is working away on what they love to make in their garages, shops and labs.

There’s blacksmith extraordinaire Sandra Dunn (above), who not only makes stuff but also makes her own tools.

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Blacksmith apprentice Bronson (above) hard at work.

We’ll also be doing a drive for volunteers a bit later on, but the important thing no matter what your connection to the Expo is that you SAVE THAT DATE! Saturday September 10, 2016. Don’t go camping that weekend. Don’t go to your cousin’s wedding. Go to the Expo!

We constructed a multi-dimensional array of Regional dates/events/places and checked the alignment of the planets and September 10 is the perfect day. The kids are back in high school. UW and Laurier students are back to their classes. We *don’t* conflict with Hack The North’s date (so I can check out that terrific event this year). And you’ll have a whole month before Oktoberfest starts. So get that date, Sept 10, in your calendar. You can’t win if you don’t play.

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Here’s something you may not know: maker-event-planner-type-people know each other beyond Waterloo Region. I was talking with (one of Toronto’s kick-ass makerspaces) president Eric Boyd to find out when he and his crew were running Maker Festival Toronto this year. Their gig is in July so we’ll be able to actually visit in person and ideally cross-promote our events.  We’re looking at a roadtrip to hacklab’s Queen Street West lair in the next few months to swap ideas and stories and really just to support each other in doing what we do.  Speaking of cross-collaboration, I just heard from Jane Snyder of Doors Open Waterloo Region and we’re looking to connect with them again this year. A great outcome of all of this work is if we get people off their sofas and plugged into the community.

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Oh the rocket launches last year… so good. Would you believe 2000+ launches off of 4 launch pads? I don’t know how Cam and Tanya did it.

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There’s my Mom (right, waving) with Jane. Hope to see this two knitters back again this year.

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To riff on the famous JFK line: ask not what Maker Expo can do for you, but what you can do for Maker Expo. Chris Parent offered to make maple syrup suckers last year and I volunteered to do all the necessary health department paperwork. It was a great learning experience. It would be great to integrate more food into the Expo. What I really hope for is more of a connection with restaurants in DTK. We went door to door last year looking to connect with King Street eateries but there just wasn’t much interest, possibly because we were a new thing. We really want to send hungry customers your way and support the core who supports us.

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One of my personal motivations for going another round in ME2016 is to continue the work on our back-of-the-envelope inclusivity model. I picked dimensions of Affluence, Ethnicity, Age, Gender, Locale, and Makerly Domain. Those first two need more attention. I tried so hard to connect with The Working Centre and also with the KW Multicultural Centre last year but I just couldn’t seem to get traction. Again, maybe it was because we had no track record. I’ll make good use of this second at-bat.

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We actually learned a lot last year. I learned that 2-way radios don’t really work inside City Hall.

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I learned that a grant application can talk two full days to write and require a lot of help to decode. Grants also have very long lead times.

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I learned that commercial and non-commercial makerly endeavours are quite compatible. People making stuff.

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I was reminded of the great phenomenon in the make-o-sphere where I can be excited about another maker’s work in a completely unfamiliar domain. Them caring so much about the work and their enthusiasm generates a really positive energy.

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Bugaloo Bunks was like have *rides* at the Expo. High five.

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Behind the scene in 2015.

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Me, muffin munching.

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This maker from Cameron Heights Secondary School was amazing. She etched her own solder paste stencils. Seriously. I’m really hoping we connect with more high schools this year. I emailed pretty much every teacher I know last year and a lot of them whom I don’t know. Just look at…

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this amazing stuff being created in local high schools!

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I have a bit of a fetish for 3-axis motion control rigs. This startup is developing a pick-and-place rig for automating fabrication of electronics.

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From Hamilton! Yes, that’s right: Maker Expo extended well beyond the borders of WR.

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I know I’m not supposed to have favourites, but I loved this LED matrix by Pouya (seated) and Dan.

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Dan is probably thinking: “I wonder what I’ll build for ME2016…”

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“I was surprised that my daughter wasn’t trying the activities, and when I asked her why she said that she wasn’t good at making things. My heart sank. So I started searching for a simple task to boost her confidence, something that we could do together. It didn’t take long! Three hours later, she was wearing her freshly felted necklace and proudly carrying her handmade rocket, and her confidence was snowballing. I finally convinced her to leave – on the condition that we would stop at a store to buy tools and supplies to carry on her projects at home. The event transformed her thinking about what she was capable of doing with her own hands and her own ideas. Thank you so much!”
-ME2015 visitor Janette

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I think all of Drew Ripley’s balloon monkeys found a good home after the event.

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Looking down into the UW Velocity area. The University of Waterloo, Laurier’s Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship, Conestoga College, and The City of Kitchener were the pillars of our financial support in 2015. We love our sponsors.

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Maker Expo loves libraries, too!

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It was terrific to have KPL, WPL, and Cambridge’s Idea Exchange in the show.

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“My favourite part of the Maker Expo experience was my wife’s reaction. She wasn’t sure what to expect – and I tried my best at explaining it – but when we got there, she was blown away by the setup – the participants – and how much fun our girls had.”

-ME2015 visitor Alex Kinsella

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Local Etsy makers.

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Meta Brent.

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We had t-shirt screen-printin’ Jon Johnson

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and film-makin’ Lyndon and Duncan.

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Brent made this giant Ferris Wheel at THEMUSEUM. And then bravely wheeled it down King Street to the Expo.

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Vanessa from THEMUSEUM.

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Meta Jnet.

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Meta Matt.

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The Dark Room and Giant Lite Brite. And Nyan Cat.

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Brent and bots.

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In the UW Velocity corridor…

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Sucker-makin’ Chris Parent. Irrepressible gelato maker switched gears for one day to make candy. He was very popular.

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What?! You’re still with me? And here I thought I didn’t shoot very many photos during the event. Well hopefully this has provided a little proof from the pudding and you’re interested. Now even if you can’t afford to sponsor Maker Expo 2016, maybe your friend or employer or rich uncle can. I’m counting on you to share this link and, more than anything, put our date firmly in your calendar: Saturday September 10, 2016 10am to 6pm at Kitchener City Hall.  We are all makers. This is Waterloo Region.

Happy making,

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