Maketopolis: UA Engineering Student Clubs Come 'Out of the Workshop and Into the World'

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By Pete Brown, UA College of Engineering February 26, 2014

Engineering students join do-it-yourselfers, roboticists, inventors, hobbyists, artists, bike modders, time lords, metalworkers, potters, hackers, steampunks, weavers, builders, woodcrafters, sculptors, tinkerers, programmers, car customizers, and more at the inaugural Tucson maker fair.

A member of Tucson community robotics team Bit Buckets loads Frisbees into a robotic Frisbee launcher. (Photo courtesy of Maketopolis)

A member of Tucson community robotics team Bit Buckets loads Frisbees into a robotic Frisbee launcher. (Photo courtesy of Maketopolis)

Student clubs from the University of Arizona College of Engineering will be turning out in force this weekend to support Tucson's first maker festival, Maketopolis.

Students from the Baja, Formula, IEEE and video game developers clubs, plus UA-supported teams from the Tucson Pumpkin Toss and the Bitbuckets robotics club, will all pitch in to help put Southern Arizona's biggest maker fair firmly on the map.

Maketopolis is a daylong family-friendly showcase of Tucson's creativity, innovation and resourcefulness with something for everyone, including rockets, robots, steampunk, 3-D scanning and printing, woodworking, quad copters, electronics, welding, textile arts, LEDs, costuming and polymer modeling. The event takes place Saturday at two locations downtown.

The original Maker Faire, held in San Mateo, Calif., was launched in 2006 by Make magazine to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the do-it-yourself mindset." Since then, maker fairs have exploded in number in the United States, and become an international phenomenon, with fairs springing up in Europe, Africa, Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, and Singapore.

Maketopolis is an arts, crafts and technology happening that gives the entire Tucson community a chance to celebrate the do-it-yourself spirit of the maker movement. Artisans from countless disciplines will join together in Tucson's diverse community and vibrant downtown to create a fun-filled day of demonstrations, conversations and exhibitions designed to inspire both the beginner and the seasoned crafter to step out of the home workshop and dive into the rich creative community in Tucson.

Beyond the fun and games, Maketopolis addresses issues that are critical to Arizona's future, such as science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – education, and workforce development and retention.

"Hands-on involvement in STEM activities is known to establish excitement and interest in the minds of young children and to provide relevance to what they learn in school," said Patrick Marcus, president of Marcus Engineering, one of the event's sponsors. "Maketopolis will stimulate this interest, as well as creating a dense community of collaborators and skill-sharing outside of the work environment, which will help retain our talented workforce and maintain a sense that there are many opportunities locally."

Maketopolis is hosted by Xerocraft Hackerspace and Maker House in partnership with Gangplank Tucson, Startup Tucson, The Tucson Steampunk Society, BICAS, the Sustainable City Project, UA Downtown and the Pima County Public Library, and sponsored by Marcus Engineering and AGM Container Controls.

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