What's Being Made At Pittsburgh's Maker Faire

Oct 9, 2015

From robots, to rockets to bicycles: this weekend, Maker Faire Pittsburgh will exhibit the work of many creative minds from all over the region.

Dale Dougherty, creator of Maker Faire, said ‘maker’ is an umbrella term that broadly defines anyone who builds, creates, or puts something together.

“I think one of the elements of Maker Faire is that we’re using technology often to transform materials and turn it into something that means something to us and to other people,” he said.

He told Essential Pittsburgh’s Paul Guggenheimer he thinks people today often see themselves as consumers and not producers.

“I want to change that,” Dougherty said. “I want to bring this creative spirit, but also this sense that we actually enjoy making, we enjoy creating things that didn’t exist.”

He said although it is part of consumer culture to feel like we can buy anything we want, the maker movement is about achieving something more satisfying.

“I think making is a higher form of engagement,” he said. “Using your mind, using your body, engaging with the world around you, and I think that’s just far more satisfying than opening a package and pressing a few buttons.”

He said Pittsburgh has several elements for a “great maker town” from its history in manufacturing, to the modern-day research that occurs at the several universities in the region.

“Some of us look at this as ‘advanced manufacturing,’ a new way forward for Americans to be able to make things,” he said. “We don’t know yet the scale of it. I don’t know that it will necessarily replace or restore manufacturing in America, but it holds promise.”

According to Dougherty, schools need to foster a better understanding for the kind of things students might create, in order to avoid scenarios like the one that happened to Ahmed Mohamed last month in Texas.

He said although he doesn’t want people to get hurt, he compared making things to skateboarding. Although there is an element of danger, children should still be allowed to experiment and learn things on their own.

“If you go back and look at some of the great scientists and engineers that have helped to shape culture, they had chemistry sets at home that were kind of dangerous, they liked to blow things up, they liked to do things that would be probably looked at as criminal,” he said.

The Maker Faire will take place at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Saturday and Sunday. More information can be found on their website.

The Remake Learning series is a collaboration of 90.5 WESA, WQED, Pittsburgh Magazine and NEXTpittsburgh.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.