Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Maker Conference a cutting-edge success

Photo from the Makerspace event

The James B. Duke Memorial Library partnered with Discovery Place Education Studio, Makerspace Charlotte and Apple to host a Maker Conference April 13, 2018. The event gave Charlotte and particularly African-American entrepreneurs the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge digital equipment and concepts. Guests sat in on expert panel discussions with designers, makers, and hackers as well as took coding classes and saw demonstrations of 3-D printers, laser cutters and milling devices.

Discovery Place instructors also provided individualized 15-20 minute “speed-sessions” so attendees could collaborate on designing and producing their own items to take home—these could be used as tchotchkes or as fundraising tools. Dr. Chantell McDowell, collection development librarian and instructional tech coordinator, was the conference’s principle organizer.

“If you know technology, you can build anything,” she said. “Charlotte is among the highly technological cities in our country and we want to make sure our students have the edge to be competetive.”

Michael Gathers ’21, a computer science major, took Apple’s Swift Coding workshop before coming to the maker area, intrigued by a laser-cut 3-D cardboard T-Rex on display.

“In the coding workshop, they told us about the 3-D printers down here and said we could come and create some stuff, so I came to check it out,” he said. “I don’t have anything particular in mind but the possibilities are fascinating.”

Kenan Jones ’19, also a computer science major, came to learn as well as network. “I wanted to see what the 3-D printers were about, but also talk to some of the instructors. I got one of their business cards so I can apply to work at Discovery Place this summer, after I complete my research program,” he said.

Jones has a few business ideas but didn’t know how to go about realizing them, so he was happy to learn about the entrepreneurship hub, a recently debuted resource that works in tandem with JCSU’s Makerspace. Students come to the hub with business ideas and find the guidance to develop them. Several student businesses even secured micro-grant funding through the hub.

Dani Brockington, a Charlotte-based graphic designer and visual arts entrepreneur, said the day was a boon for the entire community.

“I definitely see how I can apply this in my art,” Brockington told Spectrum News, which was onsite covering the event. “I’ve always been into tinkering and putting things together, so this was a cool way to learn about these things.”

In addition to being a learning space, the conference also offered a valuable opportunity for guests to grow and build connections.

“It gives us a community of other makers to bounce ideas off and learn from,” Brockington said. “It helps you to push forward, when you have a group of your peers cheering you on.”

Return to Latest News