Washington, DC - In June 2014, President Obama launched the Nation of Makers initiative, an all-hands-on-deck effort to give many more students, entrepreneurs, and citizens access to a new class of technologies—such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and desktop machine tools—to design, build, and manufacture just about anything, as well as increased access to mentors, spaces, and resources to support making.
Today, the President is proclaiming a National Week of Making, and the Obama Administration is announcing important progress on the Nation of Makers initiative, including:
- 8 Federal agencies are announcing new grants, education initiatives, training, knowledge networks, and other supports to help create more makers and assist more entrepreneurs to take prototypes to scale with new ventures.
- More than 1,400 K-12 schools, representing almost 1 million students from all 50 states, are committing to dedicating a space for making, designating a champion for making, and having a public showcase of student projects.
- More than 100 additional commitments including the distribution of 1 million foldable microscopes to children around the world by Foldscope Instruments; the investment in 100 new makerspaces by Google as part of the Making Spaces program; and new steps to support making at 77 universities and colleges through Make Schools Alliance.
America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, the rise of the maker movement and growing community of self-identified makers have come to represent a huge opportunity for the United States. In the same way that the Internet and cloud computing have lowered the barriers to entry for digital startups, the democratization of the tools needed to design and prototype physical products can support entrepreneurship and a renaissance of American manufacturing.
Tools such as 3D printers, desktop machine tools, and tools for digital design are becoming more powerful, less expensive, easier to use, and more widely available through shared spaces. These trends, when combined with crowdfunding and online communities of practice, are empowering tinkerers, entrepreneurs, and companies to transform an idea from a drawing on the back of a napkin to a working prototype faster than ever before.
Public and private investments focused on increasing access to modern tools, shared facilities, and manufacturing-specific curricula will contribute to the right conditions for even more entrepreneurs to join a renaissance of American manufacturing and hardware innovation. At its core, making involves higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills as well as individual and collaborative project-based learning, all of which instill the employability and technical skills that are needed in tomorrow’s workplace. Additionally, the “maker mindset” actively fosters dispositions and skills which have inherent value, such as curiosity, collaborative problem-solving, and self-efficacy. By helping students experience hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and real-world problem solving, making can spark deep interest and develop the necessary passion for students to excel in the 21st century.
Details on National Week of Making
Yesterday, President Obama proclaimed June 17-23 the National Week of Making. During the week, which marks the anniversary of the first-ever White House Maker Faire and the 2015 National Week of Making, hundreds of related events celebrating home-grown ingenuity will be taking place around the country in recreation centers, libraries, museums, schools, universities, and community spaces.
The week will coincide with a National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. June 18 - 19, organized by a broad range of national and local organizations on the University of the District of Columbia campus. The National Maker Faire will include participation from Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of the Navy (Navy), Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Endowment for the Arts, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
In addition, a growing community of organizations are participating in and supporting National Week of Making, including:
- America Makes, together with the City of Dayton, OH and Sinclair Community College, is planning a Maker Mayors and Innovation Cities Convening with key leaders from over 15 cities to develop local and regional roadmaps for advancing 3D printing in the participating cities.
- Backyard Brains will host a "TechTrek" event in downtown Ann Arbor, MI, with 10 live hands-on neuroscience experiments for local students to develop low-fi versions of graduate-level research tools relating to the brain and neuroscience.
- Elizabeth Forward High School, in partnership with the Grable Foundation, will host 140 K-12 educators for the free 2016 Pittsburgh FAB Institute.
- The Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio will launch “Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning,” a massive open online course (MOOC) free for anyone interested in making and tinkering.
- GE Appliances and FirstBuild will provide 20,000 career and technical education (CTE) students, advisors, and business participants access to an interactive makerspace experience that will demonstrate how different skills can come together in the workforce.
- NASA will print a Multipurpose Precision Maintenance Tool, the winning design from the first “Future Engineers” 3D printing challenge, on the International Space Station and host a live Q&A between the designer and the astronauts on the space station.
- LittleBits will host a free online summer camp during the National Week of Making with daily challenges, in-person events, and prizes for young inventors.
- Yale University will launch “Making at Yale!”—a new workshop series serving the youth and community of New Haven, CT.
New Steps Announced by the Administration Today
Federal agencies are announcing an array of new steps to deepen their connections with the maker movement, help more makers take their ideas and prototypes to scale, and help more communities get involved. These include:
- The Department of Education (ED) and Alliance for Excellent Education are announcing the launch of Future Ready Librarians, an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting the Future Ready goals of their school and district. Among other critical roles, Future Ready Librarians design collaborative library spaces that enable open-ended exploration, tinkering, and making that empower students as creators, and will serve as digital learning coaches who work side by side with teachers. In addition, a network of nationally recognized librarians, with support from Follett, will provide input on the development of strategies aligned with the Future Ready Framework, and five Future Ready Summits will be held in regional locations throughout the country and will include librarian-designed and facilitated sessions for district leadership teams on designing collaborative learning spaces.
- The Navy-led Joint Advanced Manufacturing Region IPT (JAMR IPT) is launching a Maker Mentor Initiative. The effort, in conjunction with the Open Source Maker Labs and other JAMR IPT members, will create a national public registry where experienced manufacturers may volunteer to serve as technical subject matter experts and mentors for makers interested in manufacturing their prototypes.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Innovation is collaborating with 3D Veterans to train Veterans in using 3D printing techniques. The effort will launch with a pilot program in San Antonio, training 15 Veterans over 3 months with the tools and skills associated with additive manufacturing. These Veterans will also collaborate with clinicians at San Antonio VA Medical Center to co-design prototypes of 3D printed assistive technology devices for Veterans with disabilities. At the end of the curriculum, seed funding will be available to Veterans for additional prototyping and commercialization of these devices.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will help more makers navigate its regulatory process by the end of 2016. Starting with medical devices, FDA will release streamlined web resources with early-assistance content to enable makers and other potential first-time entrepreneurs to navigate the regulatory landscape and facilitate early and ongoing interaction between the FDA and industry, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Early and frequent interaction facilitates innovations that provide safe and effective care for patients and smoothing the pathway for these innovations to reach the medical market.
- NASA will expand the CubeSat Launch Initiative to reach all 50 states. NASA commits to expanding opportunities for schools to build and launch small satellites through the CubeSat Launch Initiative—an opportunity for makers to build small satellites to demonstrate new innovative technologies and conduct scientific research in a space environment—until schools from all 50 states are successfully engaged. This builds on NASA’s work with 32 states already engaged to launch small satellites, including new states New Jersey and Idaho selected in 2016. It also includes launches in 2015 of the first CubeSat from the state of Alaska, the first CubeSat built by a tribal college, Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, and the first CubeSat built by an elementary school, St. Thomas More Cathedral School of Arlington, Virginia.
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) will introduce a new “Maker to Manufacturer” category in their third annual Community College Innovation Challenge. Launching this fall, this category will focus on developing the hardware, software, collaborative systems, and educational tools necessary to “democratize” small-scale manufacturing for the maker community, building on advances that have already occurred in the cost and ease-of-use of tools to digital design and prototyping.
- NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program will introduce a new “Maker to Manufacturer” subtopic to its existing solicitation. NSF will seek proposals focused on innovative, high-risk technologies that hold the potential to enable small-, medium-, and large-volume manufacturing of cutting-edge, high-value added products leveraging the maker movement.
- NIST will help more makers to scale production. NIST is committing up to $2 million of existing funds for Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program Centers to develop consulting and hands-on technical services in direct support of makers interested in scaling prototypes through U.S. manufacturing services, including assistance in selection of manufacturing process, materials, and suppliers.
- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will take steps to support makers and maker educators. USPTO is committing to working regionally along with its Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) across the nation to provide workshops and support for Makers, work with the YMCA to create mobile maker spaces and provide Maker Ambassadors to support students in those spaces, and help educators more easily integrate making into classrooms through the USPTO National Teacher Institute.
In addition to these commitments, Federal agencies are taking other actions. For example, agencies will form a new interagency working group on making under the National Science and Technology Council to catalog existing collaborations between Federal agencies and the maker community, as well as to identify promising practices or methods to build support for collaborative maker projects inside the Federal Government.
Additional Commitments in Response to the President’s Call to Action
Today, more than 1,500 different organizations are announcing new commitments, demonstrating the strong response to the President’s call to give every student, every entrepreneur, and every American the opportunity to tinker, design, and bring their ideas to life.
- More than 1,400 schools, representing almost 1 million students from all 50 states are signing the Maker Promise. Developed in collaboration with Digital Promise and Maker Ed, Maker Promise is a pledge by a K-12 school leader to support the students in his or her school or district by taking three concrete steps: (1) dedicating a space for making; (2) designating a champion for making; and (3) hosting a public showcase of what the students made. With support from Chevron and Google, Digital Promise and Maker Ed are also launching a national network of Maker Promise schools with professional development guides, safety kits, storytelling tools, and other resources. As part of Maker Promise, Digital Promise and Maker Ed are also collaborating with the Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) MakeOver Challenge, which launched earlier this year and has already received entries from more than 600 schools.
- Seventy-seven colleges and universities in 32 states representing more than 1.1 million students are committing to take new actions in support of the maker movement on their campuses and in their communities. Continuing to build on commitments made over the last 2 years, university partners convened through the Make Schools Alliance network, led by Carnegie-Mellon University with support from Bucknell University, Case Western Reserve University, and Cornell University, are making new commitments in the following collective action areas: (1) allowing students to submit maker portfolios during admissions; (2) new investments in makerspaces serving students across campus, or serving as anchor tenants for externally-operated makerspaces; (3) supporting maker education, outreach and service-learning; (4) supporting research that advances maker-focused technologies and approaches as well as access for makers to existing university facilities and scientific instrumentation; (5) encouraging interdisciplinary design projects to explore making and maker-entrepreneurship; (6) participating in regional efforts with companies, state and local governments, and community-based organizations to create stronger maker ecosystems; and (7) providing scholarships to students based upon excellence in making.
- Communities are repurposing and enhancing underutilized municipal assets to transform recreation/community centers and library spaces into youth-centered, technology-enabled, maker learning spaces. These “Rec to Tech” efforts increase equity and access by creating more inclusive tech communities and by developing digital literacy skills connected to future employment for a population that has historically been disconnected from tech opportunities. Actions announced include:
- 4.0 Schools will equip up to 100 aspiring founders to launch pop-up versions of learning spaces, from makerspaces to recreation centers to coding labs. Up to 30 of these founders will be equipped with coaching, $10,000 in capital, and community support to grow these pop-ups into ten-student pilot programs in the next year.
- The 1881 Institute of Technology will partner with the New Orleans Recreation & Development Commission to launch a 6-week summer camp, with 75 teenagers, focused on electronics, robotics, and computer-aided design.
- City of Pittsburgh, the Sprout Fund, and organizations from the Remake Learning Network will work together to reimagine Pittsburgh’s recreation centers as accessible neighborhood-based places for technology-enhanced learning. By May 2017, this partnership will yield a community plan, site-specific curriculum, renderings and space designs, and a demonstration effort.
- Google is partnering with MakerEd and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to award $1 million over the next two years to schools, libraries, non-profits, and recreation and community centers to build more than 100 new makerspaces as part of a new Making Spaces program.
- Ithaca Generator will host a workshop with representatives from several recreation programs to explore and plan how to increase technology offerings in Ithaca, New York. By the end of 2016, a publication will be issued that will identify and share each organization’s strengths, needs, short-term actions, and long-term goals towards increased inclusion and access for all youth and adults.
- National Recreation and Park Association, representing over 50,000 local parks and recreation professionals, will launch a “Rec-to-Tech” campaign to help more of its members know how to convert underutilized recreation centers into technology-center makerspaces. For 2016-2017, this will include developing and sharing a curriculum and best practices guide on making Rec-to-Tech a core function of all neighborhood-based recreation centers, highlighting examples though its publications, and providing training to its 50,000 members at the NRPA conference.
- Adam Savage, former co-host of Mythbusters, will launch a national tour in collaboration with Tested.com to both discover and share promising practices and innovations in the maker movement. The tour will build off of a recent tour of Cleveland where Adam Savage visited a local makerspace, hosted a community conversation, and interviewed a series of local makers to share their stories.
- Foldscope Instruments and Prakash Lab, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and other partners, will provide 1 million Foldscope Origami microscopes to children around the world in 2017, engaging them in hands-on, curiosity-driven science learning focused on biodiversity, public health, and environmental conservation.
- Maker City Project, a collaboration between the Kauffman Foundation, the Gray Area for the Arts, and Maker Media, will release the Maker City Playbook with comprehensive case studies and how-to information useful for city leaders, civic innovators, nonprofits, and others engaged in urban economic development. The Maker City Playbook is committed to going beyond stories to find patterns and discern promising practices to help city leaders make even more informed decisions.
- Maker Media, with support from Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Intel, AT&T, and Google, is committing to engage more than 1 million kids nationally over the next 12 months in hands-on, project-based learning through its Maker Faires, School Maker Faires, and online Maker Camps.
- Project Paradigm commits to expanding its national youth STEM innovation challenge, the Paradigm Challenge, to reach more than 150,000 young makers in 2016-17 and will award cash prizes and grants totaling more than $250,000 to the top 100 student teams and instructors.