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Maker Faire Movement Sets Up Shop On Westport's Jesup Green

Embracing the theme of the State of Innovation is Mark Mathias, the Creator and Maker in Chief of the annual Westport event. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Nicole Denison, who earned a certificate in Advanced Manufacturing last May from Housatonic Community College. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The tent at Westport's 5th Annual Maker Faire on Saturday hosted about 60 makers, hackers, do-it-yourselfers. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
By mid-month, Norwalk sculptor Chris Crowe will complete a nearly 20-foot fiberglass dragon whose permanent home will be in the Westport Library. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
A young visitor checks out a fun creation near the Westport Library as part of the Maker Faire. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
The maker of this Batmobile tools around New Haven on this high-tech tricycle. It is on display at the Westport Maker Faire. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Westport firefighters do a demonstration of the Jaws of Life at the Maker Faire. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
Sunny the Duck is the Westport Sunrise Rotary’s new mascot for the Great Duck Race. The Rotary club is a Maker Faire sponsor. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs
At the Maker Faire, author Roy Fuchs shows his support for the Westport Library Book Sale. Photo Credit: Roy Fuchs

WESTPORT, Conn. — State of Innovation was the theme of last Saturday’s bigger-than-ever 5th Annual Maker Faire in Westport — and it was a “huge success,” Creator-in-Chief Mark Mathias said.

The main attraction was the big tent, with 60 makers, hackers, do-it-yourselfers, and sellers — more than ever before. They were watched, quizzed and enjoyed by more than 10,000 people of all ages. Some of the items on display were finished products, others for visitors to watch as they were made, still others were participatory activities, and a few were offering information.

Outside the tent was the Dragonmaster, Norwalk sculptor Chris Crowe, who is making the Official Westport Library Dragon. By mid-May, his strikingly colorful nearly 20-foot-long fiberglass creation will become a permanent part of the New Westport Library.

Just inside Mathias was pitching license plates — Connecticut will create new “State of Innovation” vanity plates if 400 people sign up. Get the message you want, and show off your maker spirit.

Stamford Innovation Center participated for the first time. Chief Marketing Officer Peter Propp talked about the 7th Annual Sikorsky Entrepreneurial Challenge. Sikorsky is tapping the hacker universe to help solve leading-edge problems, including transmitting real time data from helicopter rotors to the helicopter itself and to mechanics on the ground. The winner takes home a $25,000 prize.

Another first time participant was Housatonic Community College, which was talking up its Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program. Recruitment coordinator Kimberley Wood hit the highlights: 28 students — including two girls — will graduate later this month. All will have jobs “replacing older machinists on the verge of retiring, all with $35,000 to $40,000 salaries.”

One of last May’s graduates is 19-year-old Nichole Dineson. She walked into a family business that makes water heaters understanding its production process and knowing how to read blueprints and how to use the company’s computer-driven manufacturing systems.

HCC was joined by Norwalk Community College and Goodwin College, both promoting similar programs.

Mathias called this a mark of how important makers, hackers and technology entrepreneurs are becoming to Connecticut’s industrial future.

A record 4,700 people ventured through the library to see even more creators and creations, including some Lego medical equipment and 3D printer demos.

In the afternoon the Geek Photo Booth offered visitors the opportunity get their picture taken for the new promotion. What’s your passion? Geek it! The writer geeked the Book Sale set for July 16 to 19. Donate books you’re finished with, buy someone else’s favorites.

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