RIT presence strong at Rochester Mini Maker Faire

More than 20 exhibits at the second annual festival are university affiliated

A. Sue Weisler

More than 20 exhibits featuring RIT students, faculty/staff and alumni will be on display at the second annual Rochester Mini Maker Faire Nov. 21 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

This Saturday, Rochester Institute of Technology will prominently display its innovative “maker” culture as students, faculty/staff and alumni of the university participate in the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

The second annual event features more than 100 exhibitors—and more than 20 with an RIT affiliation—representing the contemporary culture of “making,” a technology-based extension of the do-it-yourself culture, running the gamut from electronics, robotics and 3D- printing to more traditional pursuits such as metalworking, woodworking and other arts and crafts. Makers range from tech enthusiasts and crafters to homesteaders, scientists and garage tinkerers.

“Within RIT’s Brick City, we have built a diverse culture of creative makers, thinkers and doers,” said Jennifer Hinton, assistant director of RIT’s Center for Media Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC). “We are eager and feel a sense of responsibility to share our innovative spirit with the Rochester community with the hopes of inspiring the next creative class of world changers.”

Al Biles, a professor in RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media and a faculty affiliate with RIT’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC), will demonstrate GenJam, his interactive genetic algorithm that learns to improvise jazz and play alongside his virtual quintet.

“What I hope to gain from the Rochester Mini Maker Faire is having some fun playing lots of tunes, chatting with folks about how it works and what it does, and getting the jaw drop response from folks who engage enough to actually ‘get’ that GenJam creates its improvisations by listening to me and evolving what it hears me play with its own ideas, all in real time,” said Biles. “To help folks ‘get’ it, I’ll be using the visualizer that I wrote a few years ago, which shows my notes (in green) and GenJam’s notes (in red) spawning from a keyboard on the right side of the screen and scrolling across the window from right to left so that the melodic patterns we play are visible.”

RIT students Nick Rabb, a fourth-year computer science student from Fairport, N.Y., and Wes Rockholz, a fourth-year game design and development student from Brookfield, Conn., hope their participation in the Faire will drum up interest in their video game creation, Adventure Guild, and their production company, Yes and Games, affiliated with RIT’s Magic Spell Studios. Their Kickstarter campaign launches next month and, according to Rabb, the event will help them to gain exposure.

“Our primary purpose in going to the Maker Faire is to get a lot of people to play the game,” said Rabb. “However, in addition to demonstrating the game, we are very excited to be able to be an independent digital game studio that’s featured at an event like this. We really hope that the fact that a student project—turned product getting ready to be released—is encouraging to others.”

Rabb also shared advice to fledgling makers: “For those looking to make anything, just get out there and do it. Working hard on, and finishing, projects is much more important than just having good ideas. And, making something that you really want to see finished requires a lot of work, more work than anyone expects. Work harder than you ever have before, and it’ll all pay off one way or another.”

Greyson Watkins, a fourth-year information security student from Durham, N.C., and his team of student developers at Hz Innovations, Inc., will explain how their creation, Wavio, operates. Wavio seeks to enhance life for deaf and hard-of-hearing homeowners with a cutting-edge wireless sound recognition system that will soon be marketed across the country.

“I think we are a great fit for this event since we have a couple of `maker` engineers who built the world’s first sound recognition hardware for hard-of-hearing people,” said Watkins. “And, of course, they want to show everyone how to get started as `makers.’”

Event co-chair Dan Schneiderman is a 2012 graduate of RIT’s information sciences and technologies and political science programs.

“The Mini Maker Faire is that perfect combination of show-and-tell, science fair, craft fair, and a carnival,” he said. “It carries on the same maker spirit that you find at RIT. Students, faculty and staff have developed projects for class or work, but also to satisfy their personal interests. Students are even making things outside of their fields of study just to learn how something is made. Between the maker spaces on campus, the art that fills every nook and cranny on campus, and a festival dedicated to bringing art, science and technology together, RIT is a university that is filled to the brim with maker culture.”

Other student and faculty/staff exhibits include FOSS@MAGIC, RIT Student Makerspace (The Construct), RIT Computer Science House, RIT Launch Initiative, e-Nable, Society of Mechanical Engineers (RIT chapter) and the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

RIT is co-sponsoring the event.

“RIT is pleased to be able to provide an opportunity for our innovative and creative collective of makers to share their talents and originality with members of the Rochester community and beyond,” said RIT Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeremy Haefner. “The Rochester Mini Maker Faire falls perfectly in line with the mission and spirit of RIT. I encourage everyone to show their support for our students, faculty, staff and alumni at this event, and others, where they are encouraged to demonstrate their uniqueness and ingenuity.”

For the event schedule, a complete list of exhibits and to purchase tickets, go to makerfairerochester.com/.

art and design
student experience

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