Tutorials, news, snippets, and other various musings about the electrical engineering industry.
MakerFaire 2018: Making the Future
The Scene: A circus of 3D printed robots, articulated metal squid, and giant, walking exoskeletons.
It's the last day of EMA representing our colors at a modest booth amid MakerFaire, and on a brief foray into the parking lot dubbed Zone 1, I crane on my tiptoes to see over the crowd. Former Mythbuster Adam Savage steps off the behemoth fire-breathing machine, Rabid Transit, and onto the stage. For the next twenty minutes, I (and several hundred others) stand enraptured in the San Francisco afternoon sun, listening as Adam delivers his annual self-dubbed, "Sunday Sermon".
Makers: Learn, Share, and Grow
Adam's speech was inspiring, insightful, and gave a great message to all the creators out there: don't be precious with your creative process—learn, share, and grow. In doing so, we create a community of ideas and ingenuity which will incite advances beyond any of our singular motivations.
In our everyday lives, we makers tend to focus on our own self-serving actions. We immerse ourselves in our own little world and forget about the bigger picture. Adam himself admits to this, saying in his opening statement, "I have ignored sometimes a key aspect of what happens when we make. That aspect is generosity." He goes on to cite several instances through the years where people or corporations were very protective of their commercial property, from a fellow painter and his secret techniques right down to franchise behemoths like Barbie® and Disney® who are currently fighting the public domain with every ounce of effort they can muster.
So where is the message of hope in the negativity? To start with, Adam announced his plan to lead by example: he has a second line of handmade tool bags coming to light soon and all the original plans will be open-source for all to use online for a nominal fee.
Leading the Path
In comparison, EMA is proud to also be a leading figure in providing free software to the public, through the OrCAD Capture Cloud, which is a browser-based schematic building tool. We provide a free trial of the complete OrCAD program which defaults to OrCAD Lite if you decide not to buy, but still wish to enjoy some of the basic features.
Adam's philanthropy and our software tools are just two examples of ways in which we all can contribute to leading the path to a better future. Providing low-cost or virtually free access to technology paves the way for the next generation of builders, thinkers, and makers to have an open platform for creating the next big breakthroughs. It's no hyperbole when we state the children are our future—be it the latest-and-greatest virtual reality or simply better ways to design and automate PCB creation.
Side note: We are always excited to see what our customers make using the software. In fact, our very neighbors Walabot inside the Makerfaire showcase hall had an amazing 3D radar imaging project built on a PCB using OrCAD Allegro software. How neat is that?
Paving the Way
Being a leader in sharing ideas doesn't always come easy to the average person, but after immersing myself in the odd culture that is MakerFaire, I have a newfound respect and excitement for the warm and welcoming community surrounding makers who just want to have conversations and share in their knowledge. From little kids learning how basic robot joints work to adults attempting to break ground in exoskeleton creation, the opportunity to share in the wealth and pass it along is enticing.
The allure of generational foresight must have occurred to Adam as well, because he has begun the process of archiving and selling off parts of his massive collection of memorabilia. He will also be hosting an upcoming Mythbuster's Jr. TV show featuring young kids, hoping to pass on the idea that science and technology can be fun. After all, as Adam so aptly spoke, "I turned 50 last year...I now see myself no longer in the process of arriving [in life]. I'm in the process of leaving and preparing myself and my things for my departure...I see it as incumbent on me to share what I have learned." Simply put: share your knowledge and encourage others to do the same to pave the way to the future.
Kids of today are much more tech-savvy than we adults will ever be. In the Q&A portion of his talk, Adam spoke of a young girl who shrugged when asked if she had made anything interesting lately. "Just an underwater robot." She replied nonchalantly. As if the concept were a mere weekend project rather than something that didn't exist a handful of years ago.
Whether it's working an iPhone at three-years-old, or building robots at ten, the message of a hyper-advanced future is clear—not just in technology, but in society. It is in our power right now to be there for the next generation of thinkers, makers, and all-around creatives. They have so much potential, and that is something EMA believes is essential.
Therefore, it is our goal to provide them with the tools necessary to foster their success. As of this writing, EMA has two different promotions running; one for students who are either still in school or who have recently graduated, and the other for hobbyists and makers that can help you gain access to the full licensed OrCAD suite. Any of these products are a great step to both the full suite of OrCAD software and to new innovations.
In Adam's words: "Let's pay respect to our teachers by being teachers...[because] shutting out the voices of other humans has never been a path to achieve greatness. We can share our ears. We can listen. We're all here for too brief a time, and yet together we can get so much more done. Let's get started."
Let's get started, indeed.