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MAKING THE MAKERS: PUBLIC OUTREACH OF VIRTUAL & FABRICATION TECHNOLOGIES

V. Hui, K. Pu, G. Luk, A. Cooke, N. Khan

Ryerson University (CANADA)
Though virtualized environments and digital fabrication have become ubiquitous components in academic and professional circles, there is a dearth of channels for the general public to engage these technologies. Currently this population only comes across virtual modeling and 3D printing in the ever-growing surge of articles in the media, yet few have the foundational skillset, knowledge, and resources to actually participate in bringing ideas to virtual design and ultimately to physical reality. Touted by the Economist as ushering the “Third Industrial Revolution”, 3D printing and digital manufacturing have become potential catalysts for great change to the global landscape. Unfortunately access to such promising technologies remains inaccessible to much of the world’s population. A pilot initiative between one of North America’s largest museums, the Royal Ontario Museum, and a university student group, [R]ed[U]x Lab, has laid the infrastructure for a system of evening edutainment events whereupon the general population not only may design and build virtual models with a minimal learning curve, but also bring their ideas to physical reality through 3D printing. Using a combination of intuitive applications on tablets as well as inexpensive 3D printers, this program has been a success in directly bringing imminently ubiquitous technologies literally into the hands of people with little professional or academic experience with them.