Organizers of the San Diego Mini Maker Faire were unsure what kind of a turnout they would get for the city’s first day-long festival of invention, held Saturday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds just north of San Diego. By Friday, only about 300 people had registered online and organizers fretted that they might not get more than 1,000 to attend.
“We were really hoping to hit 2,000,” said Katie Rast, a lead organizer, who worried that the cold, blustery weather and occasionally torrential downpours would keep Southern Californians huddled indoors. Yet more than 5,200 people braved the inclement weather. “The fact that we had 5,200 attend was really a great showing that people in San Diego are really excited about the maker movement,” said Rast, an evangelist for the movement. She was especially happy to see so many kids in attendance.
“There was just an amazing buzz,” she said. San Diego’s inaugural mini maker faire, held in the Bing Crosby Hall, was intended to showcase local innovation, local creativity, and local DIY crafts. More than 100 exhibitors put their do-it-yourself wares on display.
The flagship Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA, regularly draws more than 100,000 attendees, but Rast said, “That’s a space that’s already recognized, and that already recognizes itself, for innovation. [The strong turnout here] was especially important for San Diego, because we are just becoming recognized as a maker community and a maker city.”
Rast also has served as director of Fab Lab San Diego since 2007. The San Diego Fab Lab is part of a global network of similar “invention spaces” created as part of an educational outreach initiative conceived at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms to encourage innovation, ideation, creativity, and STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) among youth and adults.
Exhibits at the mini maker faire included wallet-size robots running on Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm, a premier event sponsor; the “CatGenie, an automated cat litterbox created with a $35 Raspberry Pi computer; a “switch blade” robot created by graduate students in the Flow Control and Coordinated Robotics lab at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering; and Lindsay, a giant electric giraffe.
Here are some scenes from the faire.
Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (619) 669-8788