UD students share creativity and innovation at Maker Faire 2015

Maker Faire, pegged as “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth,” draws tens of thousands of people who want to share their own creativity and take in the creations of others.

Two teams of University of Delaware students were among the crowd at the recent Maker Faire in New York, which featured everything from a giant mousetrap and a mechanical horse to racing drones and a build-your-own satellite ground station. The event showcased 900-plus projects and drew more than 95,000 attendees from 45 states and 48 countries.

The UD groups included six mechanical engineeringstudents led by assistant professor Dustyn Roberts and three representatives of UD’s Assistive Medical Technologies (AMT) student club.

The AMT club won an “Editor’s Choice” award from the staff of Maker Faire’s magazine, as well as a Best in Class ribbon for its work with “Power Racers,” “Force Fields” and “Super Suits.”

“These are catchy names for the modified ride-on cars, harness systems and functional fashion being developed in UD’s GoBabyGo program, which is aimed at providing mobility to people of all abilities,” says Vinu Rajendran, a senior biomedical engineering major who volunteers with GoBabyGo (GBG).

“GBG is perfect for the Maker community because of our open-source modifications and our dedication to using cost-effective, easy-to-access materials,” he adds. “We are able to share mobility technologies globally by teaching others how to make them and use the materials around them, which fits perfectly with the Maker philosophy.”

At the UD mechanical engineering booth, the students displayed several small 3-D-printed projects and offered a kid-friendly activity using popsicle sticks to make kazoos. They also shared with interested prospective students how Making is integrated into the curriculum at UD.

Danielle Gerstman, a junior mechanical engineering major, welcomed the opportunity to meet Makers from so many different backgrounds and companies.

“It was an absolute blast to see the new technologies people were coming up with, from pinball machines made out of cardboard to tabletops made out of recycled sandstone,” she says. “This was a trip of a lifetime for me.”

Jennifer Koffenberger, also a junior mechanical engineering major, says that Maker Faire inspired her to continue her goal of working with robots after her summer research on a drone.

“There were many drones that young people had made and programmed which made me believe I could also do this in the future outside the University of Delaware,” she says.

This is exactly what Roberts and Cole Galloway, professor of physical therapy and founder of the GoBabyGo program, hope to see when students get involved in the Maker Movement.

“It’s about inclusion and using all of the resources around us,” Galloway says. “It’s also about placing the research, education and service missions of the University out there in the real world where our talented students and faculty can shine.”

“It was great to see our students interacting with people of all ages at Maker Faire,” adds Roberts, who is passionate about engineering education. “Our goal is to inspire them to be creative and to see them inspire others.”

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