“What is a Manufacturing Day?”
“Can I take my students to the local manufacturing plants?”
“Which plants are open for public tours around here?”
These and similar questions were raised during the weekend National Maker Faire held a little over a week ago at the University of DC campus.
Thousands of visitors ranging from 5 year olds to 75 year olds visited over 170 exhibitors at this faire. The NIST booth prominently displayed a banner providing information on the upcoming Manufacturing Day. NIST staff also demonstrated a precision mass scale built with Legos and based on electrical measurements (the Watt Balance) as well as 3D printing of Lego-style blocks. Other staffers explained NIST’s laboratory research and passed out trading cards to students featuring the SI Superheroes, comic-style characters representing each of the seven basic units of the International System of Measurement.
The exhibitors included Makers, universities, manufacturers, software companies, government organizations and trade associations. A few universities had displayed the winners of their “technology” contests. One software company had an app to find vacant parking space at any time in DC. 3D Printing technology dominated the exhibits: 3D printing for Legos, for robots, for “drones”, for toys, and even a car. This was not your ordinary car; this car was made at the Oakridge National Laboratory using 3D printing!
All exhibitors had “stuff” which dealt with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math). It was great to see parents and teachers explain to their children/ students the different aspects of science and manufacturing.
There were “Do It Yourself” workshops and many kids were very interested in making things. One booth provided the visitors all the needed components of a flashing badge and the children could make one at the booth using soldering gun. Beaucoup excitement!
We will be excited to watch as this trend continues, to see the next generation inspired to make things, and to see the US continue to lead the way for manufacturing. On October 2, Manufacturing Day provides a great opportunity for people across the country to go see what’s made in our local communities.