Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plan on Making it to the World Maker Faire New York



More than 2,000 people attended the inaugural Westport Mini Maker Faire (www.westportmakerfaire.org) earlier this year. Now is your chance to see one of the really big Maker Faires, the World Maker Faire New York (www.makerfaire.com) at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, N. Y., on Saturday, Sept. 29, and Sunday, Sept. 30.

With more than 500 makers showing their stuff, literally acres of displays, interactive exhibits and fun for all ages, this is a must-see event.

Whether you are interested in working with paper, plastic, electronics, robotics, cloth, water, airplanes, engines — or just want to come for the good food — you owe it to yourself to attend the event.

The main areas that will be covered include: arts, crafts, electronics, engineering, food/beverage, for kids (less than 5 years old), health, music, science, sustainability and young makers (less than 18).

The event is in its third year in New York. I have attended the previous two and my children and I have always left with big smiles on our way home and felt a little bit smarter and a whole lot more excited about life.

There will be some representatives from Westport at the World Maker Faire, too. David Pogue, Westport resident, New York Times technology columnist and television host of the NOVA series "Making Stuff," will be there. Many members of the Westport maker community will also attend both Saturday and Sunday, so the chance that you'll bump into someone you know is quite high.

People often ask me, "What will I see or do at a Maker Faire?" It's really hard to describe. There are three things I suggest to people:

First, go to www.youtube.com and search for "Maker Faire." You'll find thousands of videos people have taken at Maker Faires from around the world;

second, go to http://bit.ly/O8Ti8u to see a video of the Westport Mini Maker Faire from earlier this year;

third, take the family and go. It's a day that everyone will enjoy.

Whether you can come for both days or just one, be sure to put this event on your family schedule. I'm sure you'll have a great time and will enjoy the conversation not only on the way home, but for months afterwards.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 19 September 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Innovation Flourishes with Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge

Creativity and innovation are key drivers of an economy. Even our state government is helping to promote innovation through the creation of entities such as the Stamford Innovation Center.

Here in Connecticut, we are also lucky to have companies that help drive innovation.

One of these companies is Sikorsky Aircraft, a United Technologies company, and its Sikorsky Innovations organization.

Sikorsky Innovations has recently announced the Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge. Visit http://bit.ly/OLxudw for information.

The challenges that Sikorsky is posing are:
  1. How can your business concept enable safe, high-speed manned and unmanned vehicle operations in complex, obstacle-rich environments?
  2. How can your business concept utilize vertical flight to better serve or create new markets?
  3. How can your business concept introduce new approaches to preserve, stabilize or heal damaged systems and structures?
  4. How can your business concept reduce the cost and time of the design-build-test-qualify process for new complex vehicles?
  5. How can your business concept realize cost savings and lead-time reductions by using 3-D printing and additive manufacturing to produce or maintain components in vehicles?
The winners will receive:
  • One year free utilization of a predetermined space, anticipated to be able to seat two to four people, within the new Stamford Innovation Center.
  • One year of free access to new Stamford Innovation Center — also know as Stamford iCenter — shared business services, mentoring programs and education program and events.
  • Participation in a rolling, three-month-long Sikorsky education program, designed to provide both technical and business strategy guidance.
These sorts of innovation challenges are good for everyone. To begin with, they provide focused energy for creative minds that have or can create solutions to pressing problems. They also help people with skills and talents to gain visibility — whether they win or not. Finally, the winners have an opportunity to bring an idea to life that may have otherwise gone unfulfilled.

As we continue to innovate our way into the 21st century, I hope other companies and individuals will support and participate in these innovation/entrepreneurial challenges. It is amazing what problems human minds can solve when applied.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 4 September 2012.