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“You might say we took the process of an entire factory and shrunk it down to something that would fit in your closet.” — Whidbey Distillery Co-Founder Jim Heisinger

Why a Boeing Engineer Quit to Become a Maker Pro

Noramay Cadena (@noramayc) spent the better part of a decade building airplanes and satellites for aerospace giant Boeing. But after earning mid-career business and master’s degrees from MIT, she started to chafe at the restrictions of the company’s corporate culture.

“I hit walls,” she said, in a must-read interview with Brinc (@brinciot). “And ceilings.”

That frustration led her to leave the company and found two organizations: a nonprofit called Latinas in STEM (@LatinasinSTEM) that supports young women in tech careers, and Make in LA (@MakeinLA), a Los Angeles accelerator that aims to become a hub for the city’s hardware startups.

Looking to forerunners like Bolt (@BoltVC) and HAX (@hax_co), Cadena recently brought a cadre of portfolio companies to China to connect with manufacturers there. “There really is nothing like traveling and being in the scene first-hand to inspire a founder to get to the manufacturing stage,” she said.

Philadelphia Pledges Money to Maker Pros

Officials in Philadelphia awarded more than $130,000 this week to support the city’s startup community — and much of the funding will go to training and resources for maker pros.

The money comes from StartupPHL (@StartupPHL), a collaboration between the city’s Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. Standout awards this year: $25,000 to SecondMuse (@secondmuse), which will research the needs of the city’s hardware and manufacturing sectors; $24,000 to the Hacktory (@The_Hacktory), which will host a hardware bootcamp for professionals who want to learn new fabrication and design skills; and $17,200 to a foundation that will help public libraries offer business support services in low-income communities.

A Kickstarter at Large

Maker pro Natasha Dzurny (@TechnoChicShop) is back with two more installments of her series on launching her latest Kickstarter campaign.

In the third installment, Dzurny details her process for estimating the cost of a successfully funded project. Remember, she says, to calculate numbers for a worst-case scenario in which everything goes haywire.

And in the fourth, she dives into marketing praxis with guidelines on telling a campaign story through video — a pivotal aspect of a successful campaign.

More on Maker Faire Kuwait

Last week, we pointed to former Make: Editor Goli Mohammadi’s (@snowgoli) preview of Maker Faire Kuwait. Make: Executive Editor Mike Senese (@msenese) traveled to Kuwait and filed a captivating account of the rich cultural and historical context of the event which served as a compelling dive into the lives of the artists and entrepreneurs whose projects made the event possible.

Senese highlighted the contributions of Kuwait Investment Company (@KIC_KW), a key organizer, as well as Middle East maker hub Creative Bits Solutions. He also corroborated Mohammadi’s observation that Kuwaiti makers are intensely interested in accessibility, from a voice-controlled wheelchair to medical diagnosis prototypes and a robotic “nose” for people with an impaired sense of smell.

Senese also explored the gender dynamics of the event. Women were well-represented across the board, and in an inversion of cultural expectations in the United States, the crafts section showed a higher proportion of men while the tech area included many female engineers.

“We love women,” Kuwait Investment Company CEO Beder Alsubaie told Senese. “They’re smarter than men.”

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:

We’ve got a ton of maker pro coverage on the Make: blog this week. Take Andrew Salomone’s (@Andrew_Salomone) remarkable feature on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Distillery (@whidbeyspirits), a family-owned liquor outfit that revolutionized its business by inventing a new type of still using a Linux computer, digital sensors, power controllers pumps, and JavaScript. “You might say we took the process of an entire factory and shrunk it down to something that would fit in your closet,” said Co-Founder Jim Heisinger.

Also on Make:, Senior Editor Caleb Kraft (@calebkraft) reports that Autodesk has released a slicer app for the Fusion 360 suite — a welcome replacement to the discontinued 123D.

And Screaming Circuits Duane Benson (@duanebenson) is back with a new guide to the fraught process of moving from hand assembly to the big leagues of machine assembly.

And tying into Make:’s latest issue, check out Andrew Terranova’s (@ignoblegnome) no-nonsense guide to choosing a robotics kit.

Looking ahead to SXSW, Brinc founder Bay McLaughlin (@betabay) is scheduled to speak about China — and how Western entrepreneurs ignore its growing influence at their own peril.

Mechanical keyboards are all the rage these days. Check out Lofree’s (@lofreeco) nostalgic take on the concept, which brings back the round keys of a classic typewriter.