The Fourth Annual Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire was held in a new venue this year, but the enthusiasm of the makers and attendees was just as high as in years past.

Hundreds of people made their way to the Old State House in downtown Hartford Oct. 6, celebrating those who create, make, tinker, and innovate—a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven Connecticut's economy since the industrial revolution.

Maker Faire
The Air Rocket Challenge was a big hit with young children at this year's Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire.

Noah Miller, an 8-year-old who attends Achievement First Hartford Academy Elementary School, was one of many children who were amazed by what they saw and experienced at the faire.

Like many girls and boys, Noah had a blast—figuratively and literally—building a rocket then sending it a few hundred feet into the air, thanks to an air-compressor launch system.

"I'm here to make a rocket go all the way to space," Noah said before blasting off the rocket he designed and made.

The Air Rocket Challenge, a hit among faire goers, was the work of Stanley Black & Decker and MakerspaceCT. It was staged on the back lawn of the Old State House.

The challenge included a creation station where children built their rockets, a launch pad, and a control center from where children sent their rockets into space with a press of a button.

Robotics

Diane Brown of Middletown had visited a maker faire in New York City so when she saw an ad for the Greater Hartford Maker Faire, she decided to bring her son Desmond, 8.

"It's a great event," she said.

Robotics teams and engineering teams from local high schools showcased their technological talents.

Laser and 3D printers made new and unique products, and there was even a temporary tattoo booth where children could get some cool designs imprinted on their skin.

Noah Manning, a 14-year-old from Newtown who is home schooled, brought his display—Do It Yourself Air Conditioners—to the faire.

In a nod to sustainability, Noah said he uses propane to bring new life to old air conditioners that people otherwise discard.

"I hate that these old air conditioners don't have repairability and they just get thrown away," he said.

Introduction to Manufacturing

While fun and learning are obvious benefits, the event has a more subtle mission—introducing a new generation of students to the world of making with the hope it will pique an interest in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing is a key driver of Connecticut's economy and a field that provides good pay and job stability.

From giants like Pratt & Whitney to Sikorsky, to the hundreds of smaller companies that comprise their supply chains, manufacturing provides well-paying careers to more than 163,000 Connecticut residents.

But there is a desperate need for skilled workers, with over 13,000 positions going unfilled.

The hope is that an event like the Greater Hartford Maker Faire will encourage students to pursue a career based on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) foundation, said Andréa Comer, vice president of workforce strategies for CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership.

The partnership works with member companies and other groups to strengthen the talent pipeline to manufacturers and encourage economic growth.

"We want children to understand that they can craft their own financial stability with their innovation," said Devra Sisitsky, executive director of MakerspaceCT.

The 2018 Greater Hartford Maker Faire was made possible through the generous support of Stanley Black & Decker, KeyBank, The Arthur G. Russell Company, Bausch & Ströbel, Comcast, Eversource, and Renewal by Andersen.