This year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen took place on November 11-13 at Shenzhen Polytechnic, and, just like in previous years, featured a variety of content that included exhibits, workshops, talks, and performances. At the same time, Maker Faire Shenzhen managed to add something new this year. Although some of those changes might have been baby steps, each one is worth celebrating and sharing!

4 Major Differences at Maker Faire Shenzhen 2017

Theme: Maker Pro

Unlike previous years, we adopted a theme for this year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen — Maker Pro. As Shenzhen is known as the hardware capital of the world, there have always been more hardware startups at Maker Faire Shenzhen than other Faires, so this year we decided to talk about what we define as “maker pro.” We consider maker pros as those who have the skills and knowledge to make and eventually carry forward as a startup or a skilled professional. They come in many different forms and backgrounds and have each embarked on their own unique journeys in life. Some start as hobbyists, some as professionals, others as communities, and still more who were entrepreneurs from day one. But they share one thing in common – a passion for transforming their ideas into reality, and sooner or later, taking them to the next level to face the market.

At this year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen, we invited maker pros to come showcase their projects that combine tech and creativity. We also curated a Maker Pro Exhibition that highlighted 11 maker pros, as well as their products and growth path, so they could inspire others to take their projects to another level. 

Venue: The First Maker Faire Shenzhen on a Campus

As the theme Maker Pro indicates, we wanted this year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen to take place at a venue which has a strong connection to maker pros, and we found a great partner — Shenzhen Polytechnic. Shenzhen Polytechnic is one of the top technical institutions in China, with a specific emphasis on training in a wide range of skills from mechanical engineering, to automobiles, and design and visual arts. And with a maker center (soon to be registered as a Fab Lab) in the school, Shenzhen Polytechnic encourages students and teachers alike to gain hands-on experience, and to go from theory to practice and eventually to business. With the first attempt at organizing MFSZ in an institution of higher education, it also conveys how the maker culture is strongly connected with education and with an outlet for makers to go pro in this city.

Maker Pro Exhibition

As the organizer of Maker Faire Shenzhen, Chaihuo also manages a makerspace Chaihuo x.factory that focuses on serving maker pros. At this year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen, we collected 11 stories of these makers from our local and global communities to be featured in an exhibition that tells their tales of how they evolved from makers to maker pros.

MakerEd Session on Maker Forum

At this year’s forum at Maker Faire Shenzhen, we held the first-ever Maker Education session, co-curated by local educators Carrie Leung, Joseph Strzempka and James Simpson. We invited speakers from different education communities (schools, makerspaces, parents, government, or other organizations) to discuss the ways in which innovative learning has caught on in their own respective communities, and how these communities have come together to share and collaborate, encapsulating the spirit of making.

Apart from these exciting new firsts, we’d also like to share some highlights of each section on this year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen.

Maker Exhibits

This year’s Maker Faire Shenzhen we gathered 156 maker teams from all over the world to come & show their projects. Among the makers, 65% are Chinese makers, and 35% are from overseas. The projects can be divided into 7 categories, with software and hardware projects taking the highest percentage of 41%, followed by education projects of 25%, and an increasing percentage (15%) of interactive arts projects.

Some highlight maker exhibits:

Iron Makey Robot made from recycled beer bottles and metal parts by mosaic artist Ziyao Lin & Cynthia Shi with a group of local volunteers.  

Visual-Audio Art Installation – Dream Catcher by Taiwan Artist Ty Chen.

Pixelman by Taiwan Artist Ty Chen.

Waterlight Graffiti created by French artist Antonin Fourneau

Super Cool Projects and Workshops hosted by Tangtang Cai, a maker from Wuxi, China

Huge Eight-leg Mount & other projects by Ziping Chen, a maker from Jiangxi, China

Blooming by Alt+T team from Guangzhou, China

Simple Animals by Eunny from Korea, who traveled to many Maker Faires throughout the world in 2017.

Laser-Cut & Laminated Art Works by Ketian Zhang, a maker/architect from Tianjin, China

Upcycled Educational & Interactive Projects by the Tomonic team from Thailand. Tomonic brought 50+ projects from Thailand and took 2 days at Chaihuo x.factory to build the music fountain, a main attraction at Maker Faire Shenzhen this year.

Workshops

There were 27 different workshops this year. Taking recurrent workshops into account, there were 50+ workshops at Maker Faire Shenzhen 2017. The content included virtual reality, PCB, DIY 3D printer, project-based learning, woodwork, cardboard projects, escape game jam, music, laser cutting, sewing and fashion tech, upcycling and car making & racing etc. And the workshop instructors were not only adults, but also kids! It’s the workshops at Maker Faire that provide the most direct, visual/tactile, and hands-on experience to participants. You can find adults and kids, boys and girls immersing in the fun of making within the workshops! Such a not-to-miss part of Maker Faire!

Nerdy Derby

Nerdy Derby is one of the most popular projects at Maker Faire Shenzhen. With the license from Derdy Derby Inc.,  the joint efforts of Yan Chai Hospital Lan Chi Pat Memorial Secondary School, Oriental English College (Shenzhen, China), Podconn Limited and Chaihuo x.factory, we managed to build the tracks and add electronics sensors to the track to monitor the speed etc. within less than 2 months.

Drone Experience Combats

This was the second time we hosted a Drone Combat with D1 at Maker Faire Shenzhen, and this year it was a bit different, with a highlight on the aspect of the experience. Instead of recruiting professional pilots in advance to combat each other, we encouraged everyone to join. There was a specific section where participants could learn how to control the drones from professional pilot mentors. After the quick training, participants joined the fights to have fun and win prizes. 500+ participants joined the Drone Experience Combats throughout the three day event.

Maker Performance – Mario the Maker Magician

We were excited to have Mario the Maker Magician join us at Maker Faire Shenzhen this year. Apart from their own booth in the maker exhibition area, Mario and Katie brought 6 performances Shenzhen this year. Kids and adults alike were amazed by the fabulous magic performance, the perfect interprets that language isn’t a barrier to maker culture.

XTALK

This is the second year we cooperated with XTALK, a stage for lightening speeches. We were happy to have 24 speakers to come at the stage to share their maker stories and projects. This year, there were 6 kid speakers, including Wenjun He, a 5th-grade local student, and Lauren and Ashley, the two youngest designers from the MakeFashion community from Calgary, Canada.

Maker Forum

This year’s Maker Forum consisted of 4 sessions, including “Visions into the Future”, “Making in Industries”, “Platform Builders” and “Maker Education.” We invited 26 speakers to come and share their insights/stories/experiences at this stage. Out of the 26 speakers, 11 are women speakers, and 8 of those women were Chinese.

More than 2000 attendees come to listen to the talks at the maker forum, 27% participated in “Visions into the Future” session, 26% in “Making in Industries” session, 23% in “Platform Builders” session and 24% in “Maker Education” session.

Maker Party at Chaihuo x.factory

In the evening of November 10th, we hosted a maker party at Chaihuo x.factory, gathering makers/exhibitors/speakers and partners. 

Women Maker Workshop/Discussion

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We also held a women maker meetup on the final day of MFSZ2017. This meetup gathered 14 amazing women, who are makers, educators, community managers in the maker community, to share their experience, ideas, and suggestions for building a better ecosystem for encouraging women and girls to participate in making.  

3-Day High Tour after Maker Faire Shenzhen 2017

We also organized a 3-day High Tour for makers to explore this maker city. The (very intense!) schedule for the tour was as follows:

Day 1: Seeed Agile Manufacturing Center + PCB factory + Molding factory.

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Day 2: Tencent + XIVO design + BGI

Day 3: Chaihuo x.factory + Lab 0 + HAX + Huaqiangbei Electronic Market

32 makers/researchers/journalists from 11 countries joined the tour to get a closer look at this city known for hardware and manufacturing, and to learn about the resources that Shenzhen can provide, especially the techniques available for makers to adopt into their future designs and production. The 3-day tour was not only informative and fun, but also helped to build lasting friendships among participants.

Maker Faire Shenzhen provides us with opportunities to gather with friends old and new. It’s a platform for us to connect with resources local and from afar. It’s a carnival for us to celebrate making with kids and adults alike. With the conclusion of Maker Faire Shenzhen, we are grateful and would like to say “谢谢 (Xie xie = THANK YOU)” to all our partners, makers, friends, volunteers, and sponsors for your gracious help and support.

We are looking forward to meeting you all at Maker Faire Shenzhen 2018 and other maker events around the world!