The mini-drones racing inside Founder's Hall at Tunxis Community College were no bigger than a hummingbird and darted back and forward just like one, the whir from their propellers mimicking the birds' fluttering wings.

In the courtyard outside, a much larger drone made a louder sound while several feet away, a group of children added to the decibel level while hammering away at small wooden cars they were making with Stanley Black & Decker tools.

Nearby, other children fashioned empty plastic, two-liter soda bottles into rockets before launching them into space with a bicycle pump and a unique PVC piping system.

The third annual Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire on October 7— a day-long celebration of inventing, creating, and making—drew more than 800 people, including many children, to the Farmington college.

Sponsored by CBIA and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, the Maker Faire featured dozens of inventors and their projects, showcasing engineering, robotics, 3D printing, computer, and design skills, to name a few.

Career Choices

The family friendly event is designed to heighten awareness, especially among children and their parents, that many successful career choices are made by people with curious minds and creative hands.

Connecticut's manufacturers—where the work is clean, computer driven, and well-paying—are seeking the types of people who participate in a Maker Faire. People with curiosity, mechanical skills, and the ability to study a problem and devise a solution.

Makers are key because manufacturing and innovation are so important to our state and our economy.
— CBIA's Andrea Comer
If the event managed to pique some children's curiosity, expose them to creativity and, perhaps lead them down a career path at one of Connecticut's many manufacturers—where the average compensation is $95,000 a year—then it was a success.

"Particularly in Connecticut, makers are key because manufacturing and innovation are so important to our state and our economy," said CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership vice president Andrea Comer.

Shawn Carmody, an educator in the Bristol school system, came with his two young daughters and said he was happy that he was running into many of his students.

Drones, Robotics, 3D Printing

A few dozen sophomores from Hartford Public High School's Academy of Engineering and Green Technology attended as volunteers, but got to spend some time visiting the 35 or so makers who set up booths throughout the campus.

Inventor Tim Sway brought his UpTriCycle, a solar-charged electric bicycle made from reclaimed and upcycled materials, and rode it through the college courtyard, stopping to talk with people.

"This is always a great event," said Sway, a Maker Faire regular.

Other displays featured robotics, laser engraving, 3D printers, and building computers.

One of the biggest draws was the tiny house that B&B Micro Manufacturing brought to the event. Dozens of people toured it while trying to decide if they could actually live there.

Maker Talks

This year's event featured a series of Maker Talks, where different makers spoke on various topics.

For example, maker Jon Sonstrom gave a talk about inventing board games while Corey Martin of O&G Industries spoke about the dos and don'ts of drone flying.

In addition to Stanley Black & Decker, other corporate sponsors set up booths at the Faire, including Connecticut Spring & Stamping, Renewal by Andersen, and Knox Parks.

Other sponsors included Bausch+Strobel, the Kell-Strom Tool Company, the Arthur G. Russell Co., and the Birch Group.

The event was a cooperative effort between CBIA and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire
New Britain-based Stanley Black & Decker drew a crowd at the Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire.