Creators, hobbyists gather for “Faire”

A life-sized replica of R2-D2 and a dress made entirely out of recycled cans were merely just the tip of the iceberg at this year’s Mini Maker Faire which took place on Saturday, Sept. 10 in the MRDC parking lot.

The Faire, organized by Eric Weinhoffer, a fourth-year ME major, was comprised of the inventions of an eclectic group of creators. All of the participants were “Do It Yourself” (DIY) enthusiasts who gathered to show off what they loved to do as a hobby. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the “Makers” in the Faire showed off their skills to excited visitors. The Faire also had many kid-friendly stations for those who brought the whole family.

The Faire featured all sorts of creations from all kinds of venues. Several exhibits featured the hobbies of different engineers who built robots and other interesting contraptions. One group had a talking robot (which delivered speeches to groups of people), mini-cars and toy robots that drove around the Faire floor, thereby entertaining visitors and other Faire participants.

One especially fascinating tent was that of the R2-D2 builders, who made life sized replicas of the well-known Star Wars droids.

Dave Evert, a participant in the R2-D2 group, explained that he had made a hobby of building these robots.

“I am an engineer and in my free time I enjoy doing this. I would encourage engineering students to take time to enjoy hobbies. Building robots is a great way for mechanical and electrical engineers to learn more about engineering,” Evert said.

“This is something I do because it’s fun. All of this is non-profit, and we wanted to come to this faire today to showcase our machines and show students that they can have fun doing more with their hands,” said Sean McHealey of Freeside Atlanta.

The machines McHealey referred to were small robotic mechanisms that could perform an array of functions, from drawing pictures in pen to sewing intricate designs.

In another exhibit, “Maker” Jo blended the world of engineering and art. His exhibit was comprised of artistic creations made simply of metal and electrical materials. The banner hanging above the entrance of this exhibit read, “Electro-mechanical Alchemist.”

On the more artistic spectrum of the faire, Caroline Starmer had an exhibit of clothes comprised solely of recycled pieces.  Several students stopped to inquire if the clothing was for sale — it was not.

“I just wanted to do something different,” Starmer said. “I’m in design, and I go to Southern [Polytechnic State University] so I wanted to do a hands-on design project that would inspire students at my school.”

Starmer’s exhibit had several dresses comprised simply of recycled Coke bottles. Others were made from material such as recycled paper.

The event was very successful and attended by many people from the Atlanta area, expanding beyond just the ranks of Tech students. Several students were also inspired by the DIY attitude.

“Coming to this Faire makes me really want to take on a hobby building and creating things outside of what we do in the classroom,” said Andy Westmire, a second-year EE major. “I think it would be awesome to build robots in my free time.”

Weinhoffer, the event’s organizer, hopes the event will continue to expand.

“My goal in organizing this event is to inspire students to make things with their hands. This Faire is really just a celebration of the DIY movement, and I want more students to become a part of it,” Weinhoffer said.


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