Miami-Dade County

Bring the family. Maker Faire Miami will feature robots, technology, games and fun

Abbey Rose McDonald, 6, jumps next to a tall blue robot on display during the Miami Mini Maker Faire at YoungArts Plaza last year. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com
Abbey Rose McDonald, 6, jumps next to a tall blue robot on display during the Miami Mini Maker Faire at YoungArts Plaza last year. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

A group of Miami Dade College students is spending a semester at Massachusetts Institute of Technology learning about robotics and building a self-driving car prototype.

An Ecuadorean chocolate company has created a tree-to-bar manufacturing process based on innovation, social responsibility and direct trade with certified organic farms.

The creator of Cuba’s first independent video game, Savior, is offering a sneak peek at the action game that will be released next year.

These are just some of the 150-plus makers who will be showcasing their DIY projects at Maker Faire Miami on Saturday and Sunday, at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

The family-friendly event, hosted by MDC in partnership with MANO Americas and in association with Maker Media, will feature inventions, talks and interactive exhibits in robotics, 3D printing, art, science and fashion that celebrate the growing maker movement in South Florida. With Maker Faire Miami, the city is just one of about 30 cities around the world to host large-scale Maker Faires in 2017, including Rome, Paris, Tokyo, Atlanta, New York and Shenzhen.

As a snapshot of our local innovation ecosystem, there’s nothing like Maker Faire Miami. No where else will you see makers, educators, artists and entrepreneurs side-by-side showcasing their cutting-edge projects, startups and collaborations to our community.

Ric Herrero, co-producer of Maker Faire Miami

While MANO has hosted successful and growing Miami Mini Maker Faires the past few years, this will be larger in terms of the number of makers presenting and in attendance. Organizers are expecting more than 5,000 attendees at the festival-like Faire and MDC hopes to grow it into a yearly signature event, like the college’s book fair and film festival.

“As a snapshot of our local innovation ecosystem, there’s nothing like Maker Faire Miami,” said Ric Herrero, founder of MANO Americas. “Nowhere else will you see makers, educators, artists and entrepreneurs side-by-side showcasing their cutting-edge projects, startups and collaborations to our community,”

In the spirit of fostering greater collaboration across the educational ecosystem, Maker Faire Miami will feature multiple interactive exhibitions — exploring everything from drone technology to sustainable architecture to fashion and culinary innovations — by Miami Dade College, the University of Miami and Florida International University, as well as the Miami College of Design and K-12 STEM and maker-ed programs from across the county, Herrero said.

The four MDC students spending the semester at MIT’s renowned Media Lab took a technical course on robotics and they have built the first iteration of their self-driving car prototypes that they will show and demo at the Maker Faire, said Ramiro Almeida, an MDC professor who is a former instructor at MIT and also the co-founder of a self-driving car technology company with MIT colleagues. When the semester ends next month, the MDC students will likely continue work on their project through internships or at MDC, Almeida said.

Another ongoing project on display: About 14 MDC students are constructing large-scale replicas of Wolfson Campus and downtown buildings using Lego bricks, which later will be part of a virtual city. They will be showing some of their first creations. But the buildings are just the start of a larger project, Almeida said. The idea is to use them in simulations using technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to look at the city and how we live from different perspectives, he said.

Maker Faire Miami will also bring together about two dozen makers from South and Central America, the Caribbean and Spain.

Maker Faire Miami will also bring together about two dozen makers from South and Central America, the Caribbean and Spain.

“We are the Maker Faire of the Americas, and we want to showcase talent from all over the southern continent and the Caribbean,” Herrero said. That includes creations from Aruba’s first maker space and about a dozen Latin American representatives of the global Fab Lab network, a large pavilion that will be co-produced by the University of Miami School of Architecture. Also, Banco Santander will be bringing five entrepreneurs from Spain to showcase creations, Herrero said.

Two more highlights: Josuhe Pagliery of Havana will be previewing his video game, Savior, which had a successful crowd-funding run last year and is set to be released next year. He has said Savior is the product of a unique moment in Cuba and a reflection of the creators’ personal experiences in the country. Also, Santiago Peralta, founder of Ecuador’s Pacari Chocolate, will be speaking Sunday about Pacari’s sustainable tree-to-bar process.

The 305 will be well-represented at the Maker Faire, too. Moonlighter’s pavilion, for example, will have lots of hands-on exhibits and activities for kids of all ages.

“There will be plenty of places to play. Local artist Hoxxoh will be doing a pendulum art workshop for kids inspired by his work,” said Tom Pupo, co-founder of the Wynwood makerspace. “We’ve teamed up with one of our member companies, Designed.Engineering, to host a large tent with various hands-on activities. Visitors will get to try screen printing shirts, molding a custom plastic button, and vacuum forming a sheet of styrene into various maker-themed designs. ... And maker Mario Cruz has built a variety of open-source arcade game systems with Raspberry Pi microcomputers. This will delight adults as much as the kids because these will feature the games of their youth.”

Maker Faire Miami at MDC will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $15 and the Faire is free for kids 5 and under and for MDC students and employees. More information: http://miami.makerfaire.com.

If you go

What: Maker Faire Miami at MDC

When: Saturday and Sunday

Where: MDC Wolfson Campus, Kyriakides Plaza, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami

Cost: General admission to Maker Faire Miami is $15. Free for kids 5 and under, and MDC students, faculty and staff.

More info/tickets: http://miami.makerfaire.com

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