In the last decade, the Maker Movement has burst to life, democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything. The Maker Movement has already changed the landscape of American manufacturing in small towns and big cities, offering a uniquely American path to revitalizing our manufacturing sector. This transformation has the potential to unleash new opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to make the next world-changing product, students interested in hands-on engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and companies hoping to manufacture their products with American workers passionate about the latest manufacturing technologies.
In advance of the first-ever White House Maker Faire, mayors around the country are signing up to join the Mayors Maker Challenge, a call to action from mayors, challenging their peers to bolster Making in their own communities. This week, over 20 “maker mayors” asked other local leaders to join them in spreading access to the tools, technologies, and education to spur Making and manufacturing innovation in big and small communities around the United States.
Cities are already getting involved by:
- Hosting Maker Faires and Mini-Maker Faires;
- Fostering local maker ecosystems, bringing together libraries, schools, museums, companies, non-profits, labor unions, universities, and citizens to build a diverse community invested in making;
- Supporting maker spaces, like TechShops and Fab Labs, that broaden access to the tools needed for design, prototyping, and making;
- Encouraging accelerators, like AlphaLab Gear in Pittsburgh or SFMade in San Francisco, to help entrepreneurs grow their companies;
- Supporting women and under-served communities in Making, like GeekBus in San Antonio and Mothership HackerMoms in California; and
- Helping schools integrate Making into their STEM curriculum, like Digital Harbor in Baltimore, Manor New Tech in Austin, and Elizabeth Forward in Pennsylvania.
The Mayors Maker Challenge asks cities to build on this work by committing to action, including:
- Convening a roundtable to spur local partnerships and catalyze public and private commitments to strengthen the local Maker Movement;
- Committing to work with school districts, libraries, museums, after-school providers, community colleges and universities, workforce investment boards, and job training organizations to give more students access to access to maker spaces and mentorship, and focus more education and training programs on the emerging fields of advanced manufacturing and technology innovation;
- Supporting maker spaces in local incubators, accelerators, educational institutions, under-utilized buildings, and/or design-production districts;
- Celebrating the ingenuity and creativity of local makers by holding a Maker Faire;
- Designating a maker liaison in the mayor’s office or economic development department;
- Upgrading economic & business development programs, incentives and services to provide support to manufacturing entrepreneurs and small businesses;
- Identifying, documenting and sharing “promising practices” in manufacturing and technological innovation so that others in your community and beyond can learn from local experimentation; and
- Supporting initiatives to engage students, maker entrepreneurs and small manufacturers in under-served neighborhoods.
If you’re interested in the first-ever White House Maker Faire, you can send your creations, information, and descriptions of what you've made to us using this form.
Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Jason Miller is Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy at the National Economic Council, and Rohan Patel is Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at The White House.