A horde of assorted builders, crafters and tinkerers will descend on downtown Tucson on March 1 to share and celebrate the art and science of making things.
Maketopolis Tucson is Tucson’s first festival for “makers,” tinkerers, builders, engineers, hackers, crafters, hobbyists and “everyone curious about making cool stuff,” says co-organizer Vanessa Ford of Maker House.
The event, co-hosted by Maker House and Xerocraft Hackerspace, is part of the local maker movement, a technology-based extension of do-it-yourself culture.
Maketopolis is loosely patterned after similar “maker faires” originally launched by California-based Make magazine and held across the country since the mid-2000s.
The daylong Tucson event, which is free for attendees, will be held at and around Maker House, an artisan-oriented community and education center in the historic Bates Mansion; and Xerocraft, a nonprofit that teaches engineering and fabrication skills in a space at the historic Steinfeld Warehouse.
Beside Ford, Maketopolis is spearheaded by Patrick Marcus of Marcus Engineering, Justin Williams of StartUp Tucson and Connor Barickman of Xerocraft.
With the marketing slogan “Out of the Workshops and into the World,” Maketopolis gives local makers the chance to share the projects they’ve created, says Ford, executive director of Maker House.
But the event serves a larger purpose as well, says Ford, who expects upward of 1,000 attendees and exhibitors at the event.
“Part of what Maketopolis is about is giving the community a chance to see that they can go beyond traditional education to gain skills that are valued in the 21st century,” she said. “It’s about more than making cool projects; it’s about learning and honing skills that employers are looking for, and that includes employers right here in Tucson.”
Marcus, whose firm provides advanced technology design and development services, says events like Maketopolis serve to connect the area’s scientific and engineering community — fostered by the University of Arizona and local high-tech firms — with the area’s community of talented artisans and craftspeople.
“Maketopolis hopes to bring visibility and a sense of community to engineers, scientists, technologists, artisans and craftspeople from distant industries to rebrand themselves as Makers,” Marcus said in an email. “The sense of community helps to retain our talented workforce and maintain a sense that there are many opportunities locally.”
To that end, Maketopolis is part of the Arizona SciTech Festival, a series of events aimed at promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education — seen as a vital effort to develop a competitive workforce.
Confirmed exhibitors include Atmel Tech on Tour, a tour bus featuring the company’s micro controllers; CoLab Workspace, a downtown co-working space formerly know as Gangplank Tucson; Tucson DIY; the Pima Community College Engineering Club; Bicas (Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage); Crafting Forward; Palo Verde High School Optimal Robotics; Sonoran Desert Flyers; the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association; Tucson Pumpkin Toss; Mansfeld Magnet Middle School STEM Plus; the Foundry’s Gentleman Robot; Bit Buckets Robotics Team; and the Tucson Steampunk Society, whose members fuse steam-era technology with period art and style.
There’s still time to register as a Maketopolis exhibitor before the Feb. 26 deadline. To sign up online, go to tinyurl.com/n5aspf2
Make-a-thon this week
Before Maketopolis, local makers, hackers and artisans will get together this weekend for the first ever Startup Tucson Make-a-thon, where people of a wide variety of skill sets will come together to collaborate and build something in 24 hours.
The event will start with an informal “maker hour” at Maker House 5:30 p.m. Friday evening; the Make-a-thon itself starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at CoLab Workspace, 17 E. Pennington St. The cost is $29 per participant, or $19 for students.
Attendees will pitch ideas, create teams and work through the weekend “with the goal of making something amazing,” Startup Tucson’s Williams said.
Make-a-thon will be based at CoLab Workspace, but resources and tools will be made available by both Maker House and Xerocraft.
For families with younger children, Tucson DIY will be hosting a Lego bridge-building competition at CoLab Workspace during Make-a-thon (please bring your own Legos).
To register, go to www.startuptucson.com