Southern Smart and Friendly: Atlanta’s Maker Faire

The Atlanta Mini Maker Faire surrounded the Tech Green at Georgia Tech on Saturday, attracting an estimated 10,000 attendees to see rockets, robots, steampunk, 3D printers, woodworking, kinetic sculptures, art bikes, lawnbots, a mobile makerspace and much more. With beautiful weather and a friendly vibe, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

There were 137 maker exhibits. Billy Allen, a Georgia Tech student, said he thought he could just walk quickly through the exhibits but “instead I spent 10 minutes watching chickens and then I spent 10 minutes watching 3D printers.”

Lead organizer Kimberly Varney of The Foundery said that the whole day was “fantastic.” She said that Georgia Tech was “a good partner and a good place for Maker Faire because the community sees it as a place for tech innovation.” Gabe Ochoa of the Invention Studio at Georgia Tech Mechanical Engineering Department coordinated the services provided by the University, and he (@Gabe_Ochoa) tweeted that “planning paid off for an amazing event.”

Varney added that Atlanta is “getting ready to explode” with more people moving into the urban center. Maker Faire helps to “capture the inherently creative spirit and energy of the city,” she said. She quoted Scott Henderson of Hypepotamus, a startup incubator, that Atlanta represents “disconnected awesomeness” and Maker Faire is a great way to begin making connections.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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