For Cecil Rivers and his son Grayson, it all started with a chicken bone.

For Terry Rennert, it was a discarded object from a junkyard.

The Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire featured 48 exhibits and drew 1,500 people.
The Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire featured 48 exhibits and drew 1,500 people.

And Steve Longpre discovered an interest in additive manufacturing and 3-D printing after learning about it five years ago.

What ties these people together is their love for making.

All three put their inventions and innovations on display Oct. 3 at the first-ever Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire at Tunxis Community College.

More than 1,500 people of all ages walked through the 48 exhibits on a rainy afternoon.

Attendees were able to make their own creations at several interactive exhibits, including 3-D scanning, rocket building, upcycling, LEGO model-building, and more.

The Mini Maker Faire put a spotlight on the ingenuity and craftsmanship of Connecticut makers.

Called the “Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth,” community-based Maker Faires are taking place all over the world. The maker movement, now a decade old, uses invention and innovation to inspire creativity.

At the Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire, the end result ranged from robotics to chicken bone dinosaurs to prosthetics made with 3-D printers.

In many cases, it was the younger exhibitors teaching the adults a thing or two. High school students demonstrated and explained robotics, while college engineering students adapted mobile toys for kids with disabilities.

Visitors were fascinated by many of the 3-D printing exhibits, including one where 3-D scans of heads were turned into models. Another popular exhibit focused on arduino board building.

“Maker Faires are sparking renewed interest all over the world in the joy of making things for fun and to meet needs,” says Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of Connecticut’s College of Technology and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

RCNGM sponsored the Maker Faire with funding from the National Science Foundation.

“The goal of the Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire was to introduce the community to these incredible makers and inspire others to go home and start thinking like a maker,” she said.

“The event allowed the community to participate in something truly magical,” said Andrea Comer, executive director of the CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership.

Jenna Roberts and Kyler Vensel from the Wolcott High School Robotics Team visit the Stanley Black & Decker exhibit.
Jenna Roberts and Kyler Vensel from the Wolcott High School Robotics Team visit the Stanley Black & Decker exhibit.

“It’s adults, kids, businesses, schools—everyone coming together to inspire and to create. It brings STEM and manufacturing to an entirely new level, and that’s really cool to see.”

And these makers will tell you that it’s not just about creating the biggest and best invention.

“I feel a maker is anyone that uses basic human curiosity to solve problems, create art, and have fun with technology,” said Cecil Rivers who, with his son Grayson, recreates prehistoric skeletons using chicken bones.

“That means my aunt knitting scarves and skullcaps, or my son and me building models of dinosaurs, or a person brewing beer in their kitchen, are all considered makers.”

“Making satisfies my curiosity,” said Terry Rennert, who builds robots out of discarded metals.

“It challenges me to learn something new; it allows me to share and shape. I encounter difficulties and need to figure out how to solve problems. It’s as much about the process of making as it is about what you make.”

This year’s Greater Hartford Maker Faire was the first of its kind, and if the crowd was any indication of the interest in and passion for making, it will be the first of many such events.

Corporate sponsors of the Greater Hartford Mini Maker Faire were Legrand, Stanley Black & Decker, LEGO Systems, Inc., and TRUMPF. CBIA produced the event on behalf of RCNGM.

Manufacturing Day

Mary Fitzgerald, president of Mystic-based Acme Wire Products Company Inc., gives Grasso Tech students a tour of her facility.
Mary Fitzgerald, president of Mystic-based Acme Wire Products Company Inc., gives Grasso Tech students a tour of her facility.

Produced in part by the National Association of Manufacturers, Manufacturing Day showcases modern manufacturing, introducing students, government officials, and other community stakeholders to the wonderful world of manufacturing and its enormous economic impact

The day before the Maker Faire, manufacturers across the country opened their doors and hosted tours to celebrate Manufacturing Day 2015.

Several Connecticut manufacturers and CBIA members participated in the celebration. They included:

  • Acme Wire Products, Stonington
  • Alcoa, Winsted & Branford
  • Barnes Group, Bristol
  • Bauer Inc., Bristol
  • Bead Electronics, Milford
  • Dymotek, Ellington
  • East Coast Lightning Equipment, Winchester
  • Marion Manufacturing, Cheshire
  • Pegasus Manufacturing, Middletown
  • Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford
  • TRUMPF Inc., Farmington