Announcing the First White House Maker Faire

In years past, firing a marshmallow cannon might have landed you in the principal’s office. On Tuesday, it landed 16-year-old Joey Hudy in the First Lady’s box at the 2014 State of the Union Address.

At the 2012 White House Science Fair, Joey wowed the President by using a homemade cannon to send a marshmallow flying across the State Dining Room. Joey then handed the President a business card reading, “Don’t be bored, make something.” The saying became a rallying cry for the President’s efforts to grow a generation of students who are “makers of things, not just consumers of things.” In December, Joey became the youngest Intel intern, after he amazed Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at a Maker Faire, which is an event that allows tinkerers, entrepreneurs, and inventors like Joey to haul their creations out of the garage and into the spotlight.

Inspired by “Joey Marshmallow” and the millions of citizen-makers driving the next era of American innovation, we are thrilled to announce plans to host the first-ever White House Maker Faire later this year. We will release more details on the event soon, but it will be an opportunity to highlight both the remarkable stories of Makers like Joey and commitments by leading organizations to help more students and entrepreneurs get involved in making things.

Meanwhile, you can get involved by sending pictures or videos of your creations or a description of how you are working to advance the maker movement to maker@ostp.gov, or on Twitter using the hashtag #IMadeThis. Take Joey’s advice – don’t be bored, make something. Maybe you, like Joey, can take your making all the way to The White House.

By democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything, Maker Faires and similar events can inspire more people to become entrepreneurs and to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Administration is already partnering with companies, non-profits, and communities to make the most of this emerging movement. The Defense Advanced Projects Agency, or DARPA, collaborated with the Veteran’s Administration to support the creation of a TechShop in Pittsburgh, where members can access cutting-edge tools for making, andprovided memberships for thousands of veterans. With funding from the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and Carnegie Mellon University are partnering with TechShop Pittsburgh to create an apprenticeship program for 21st-century manufacturing and encourage startups to manufacture domestically. Similarly, with support from Americorps and leading companies and foundations, the Maker Education Initiative is working with schools and youth-serving organizations to provide students with access to Making. Last summer, the group engaged more than 90,000 youth and families around the country in Making activities. The White House has also honored Maker Movement leader Dale Dougherty as a Champion of Change.

Later this year, the Administration will launch an all-hands-on-deck effort to provide even more students and entrepreneurs access to the tools, spaces, and mentors needed to Make. There are many ways in which, in addition to the contributions of thousands of individual Makers, companies, universities, mayors and communities, and foundations, and philanthropists can get involved. For example:

  • Companies could support Maker-spaces in schools and after-school programs, provide their employees with time off to serve as mentors, be “anchor tenants” for makerspaces like Ford’s partnership with TechShop, or, for multi-channel retailers, provide access to consumers for innovative Maker start-ups.
  • Universities could add a “Maker Portfolio” option as part of their admissions process, create more Maker spaces on campus for students and the community, and support research in advancing the development of better hardware and software tools at national, regional, and local levels, such as the equipment in MIT’s FabLabs.
  • Mayors and communities could pursue initiatives like design/production districts that allow entrepreneurs to create more jobs or initiatives that expand access to Marker spaces, mentorship, and educational opportunities through their schools, libraries, museums, and community organizations.
  • Foundations and philanthropists could provide matching grants to communities that are interested in embracing Making, in the spirit of Andrew Carnegie’s support for public libraries. In particular, the Administration has called for special efforts to ensure that girls and under-represented minorities are included in such STEM opportunities.

Interested in getting involved? Send your creations, information, and descriptions of what you've made to us using this form. Email your thoughts, questions, or creations to maker@ostp.gov.

Working together, we can prove that in America, the future really is what we make of it.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Jason Miller is Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy at the National Economic Council.
Related Topics: Innovations
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