Ellie Chen demonstrates a gyro crutch, one of the products designed by the Tikkun Olam Makers of Alberta during the Red Deer Mini maker Fair at RDC on April 22. Photo Christi Albers-Manicke

Curious minds meet innovation at Maker Faire

From garage tinkerers to tech enthusiasts

Red Deer College played host to inventors, tech enthusiasts and curious minds during the Red Deer Mini Maker Faire on Saturday.

“This is such an awesome event to have in Central Alberta,” says Heidi Meyer, RDC Alumni and one of the producers of the Red Deer Mini Make Faire. “Our main focus is education, for school groups and students. We have R2D2 here, an electric car prototype, a vacuum truck…we did have the car ramp sent up but I think we used all the washers in Red Deer.”

Over 200 ‘washer cars’ were created and raced throughout the day alongside demonstrations of 3D printers, casting, computer programming, fashion design and robots.

“I’m here because it’s fun, but I’m also here because I can bring information back to my students (at RDC) and connect them with their community,” says Mark Dukeshire, programs administrative co-ordinator for the Donald School of Business.

He added that the chance to make a hobby profitable, or turn into into a business is always a positive thing.

Ellie Chen, with the Tikku Olam Makers (TOM) of Alberta was on hand demonstrating one of the groups most recent designs. TOM is a a group of engineers and designers that work with people living with disabilities to invent, design and produce tailor made products that assist in everyday life.

Sometimes the products a meet complex needs, while others make life a little easier, one of the groups more recent designs was a crutch with a gyroscope that enabled the man it was designed for, to carry and hold his coffee without spilling it.

Rod Holt let potential tradespeople try their hand at welding on the welding simulator. The technology is part of RDC’s virtual reality and cooperative trades program. It allows welding students to work on skills such as dexterity and speed before heading into a welding booth.

“We’re trying to build a program that students can use until they are booth ready,” says Holt. “This is the same technology they use to make flight simulators, if it’s good enough to teach you to fly then it’s good enough to teach you to weld.”

Attendance numbers were up compared to last year’s maker faire with over 700 tickets presold for this year’s event.

The original Maker Faire was held in California in 2015 but has grown to a world wide movement. Makers range from garage thinkers to tech enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.

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