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Pensacola Maker Faire Brings A World Of Ideas And Inventions Downtown

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Inventors and innovators will be getting together in downtown Pensacola this month for the city’s first ever Mini Maker Faire. In 2006, the first Maker Faire was held in the San Francisco Bay area. The event has quickly grown and spread.

“Now, there’s about 170 of these maker fairs around the world each year, because it’s a very powerful way to bring people together from all kinds of disciplines and interest areas” said Thomas Asmuth, an associate professor in the University Of West Florida Department Of Art. “People came together to show off what they’d like to do, and realized they had a lot of similarities in their creativity even though their outcomes might have been very dissimilar.”

There will be many makers and disciplines coming together at this month’s event. Everything from ceramics to robots, solar-powered cars to droid makers, virtual reality to board games … in all there will be close to 100 makers showing off their skills and inventions.

“There (are) people who are bringing their prototype games, their wearable electronics. There’s a rover competition. My students made some really cool terrains to try and challenge the rovers. There (will) be performers. There’s giant Tesla coils. Trumpets that shoot fire! All kinds of great things to watch and look at.”

There will also be a presentation from Jane McGonigal, one of today’s leading speakers on the engagement economy and the application of game-design to the real world.

“Jane’s a really special person. She’s a person that brings together the understanding of technology with how it integrates in people’s lives. And so I see the cross between the humanities and the sciences back and forth. A great communicator, excellent thinker, really helping people step outside the box.”

In the end, Asmuth hopes the Mini Maker Faire will help spur a new spirit of invention and collaboration in the region.

“At these events you usually don’t know who’s going to be sitting next to you, and some of the most interesting conversations can emerge because people can see what you’re doing and start (that) new conversation.”

The Pensacola Mini Maker Faire is presented by the UWF Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. The festival site is hosted by the UWF Historic District. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits, activities and demonstrations will be set up in various buildings including The Museum of Commerce, Museum Plaza, Voices and The J. Earle Bowden Building. And no, you do not need to be a maker to attend. You can just come, watch, listen and enjoy. There is no charge to attend, but you should preregister at Eventbrite. The Pensacola Mini Maker Faire is Saturday, November 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.