2014 was Year of the Maker!

Alamance Makers Guild 2014
Year in Review

Year of the Maker

Make Magazine declared 2014 “Year of the Maker” and based on the amazing year the Alamance Makers Guild had in 2014 they were right! Thanks to a shared love of learning, spirit of community outreach, and spirit of volunteerism supporters of the Alamance Makers Guild helped our organization grow by leaps and bounds in 2014.

AMG-logo2014 saw a tremendous increase in community outreach, field trips, regional Maker Faire participation, learning and social connections to other Maker Spaces, and support for other organizations within our community of Alamance County NC.

Our Maker Year was energized in June with the President of the United States recognizing the Maker Movement as the “next big thing” on par with a second industrial revolution or the next step in the growing information age. This recognition came thanks to the Maker Movement’s power to bring back manufacturing to the US, create new jobs, improve opportunities for STEM Education, and generally boost communities. The President declared June 18th a “National Day of Making” and the White House produced the first ever White House Maker Faire. Ben Harris (Founder of the Alamance Makers Guild) was rewarded for our efforts at community building here in Alamance County with an invitation to the White House for the first White House Maker Faire as one of 16 “Honored Maker Attendees.” Out of fifty states, many bigger cities, and 316 million Americans this is a huge recognition of the work we are doing here in Alamance County! (Everyone involved in the Alamance Makers Guild had a part in getting us this recognition!)

Regular Open Meetings of the Alamance Makers Guild 2014


3D Printing fun at Blessed Sacrament School for our Dec AMG Meeting and Potluck.

Since June of 2011 the core of Alamance Makers Guild activity has centered around a regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Meetings are free and open to the public and always involve some kind of speaker, demonstration, or hands-on activity. Meetings are also the time for Show-N-Tell, an opportunity for folks to show off their projects and ideas. Its always amazing and humbling to see the amazing talents, skills, and imagination represented by the projects at Show-N-Tell. In 2014 we continued to hold the majority of our open meetings at Sylvan Learning Center of Burlington. Many thanks to Sylvan for hosting our meetings and helping us grow! 2014 also saw opportunities to host some of our regular meetings at May Memorial Library, Game Over Comics and Collectables, and at Blessed Sacrament School of Burlington. As always MiMi’s Pizza of Burlington provided gourmet Pizza Buffet Style for an affordable price for our meetings. (we always joke that people come for the Pizza more so than anything else!) Thank you MiMi’s!

Topics and speakers from our 2014 Open Meetings:

  • January: Art of the Oscilloscope – Ben Harris (at Game Over Comics)
  • February: Canceled due to Ice Storms and bad weather
  • March: Chain Maile – Art and Fashion – Zac Schell-Designs
  • April: Burlington Mini Maker Faire and related Meetings (Pre/Post)
  • May: New IO Tech Oculus Rift/Google Glass/Leap Motion – Tony Crider
  • June: “I’m a Maker and so are You!” interactive talk at May Memorial Library – Ben Harris
  • July: “Building a Lamp / Writing an Instructable” – Dan Porter and Danny Oakley
  • August: 3D Printing FreeForAll
  • September: Origami at the Library
  • October: Talk by Wood Turner/Inventor/Maker James Duxbury
  • November: Electric Vehicles – Ken Clayton
  • December: Holidays Pot Luck Dinner + Digital Fab Ornaments (at Blessed Sacrament School) {special guest ShopBot Tools of Durham bringing in a HandiBot to make wooden ornaments}

We learned Origami in September!

AMG members learn about Electric Vehicles from Ken Clayton in November.

Maker Faire Involvement for 2014

Since 2012 the Alamance Makers Guild has been involved in Maker Faire North Carolina in Raleigh, and has also worked to develop, promote, and produce the Burlington Mini Maker Faire. 2014 was a year of expansion with support for other regional Maker Faire events and thanks to volunteers taking time away from their jobs and families we were able to represent the Alamance Makers Guild at Eight Faires this year! Highlights included media interviews at the Atlanta Maker Faire, Ben’s trip to the White House for the White House Maker Faire, and “Best in Class” and “Editor’s Choice” awards for the exhibit at World Maker Faire in New York.

Danny and Ben at Atlanta Mini Maker Faire.

Danny Oakley and Ben at Atlanta Mini Maker Faire.

2014 Community Outreach and Other Events


Dan Porter representing AMG, sets up at First Fridays in Burlington and shows off his 3D printed bunnies.

In addition to our monthly open meetings and our involvement in Maker Faire activites around the region, 2014 saw a huge up-tick in community outreach for the Alamance Makers Guild. We’ve worked together to get involved in the community and to support local STEM Education. Supporters of the Alamance Makers Guild put on Maker Exhibits at many local events and also took field trips around the community and state to learn from other Maker Spaces, support Arts events, and grow our own Maker Community.

  • May: Exhibited at Efland-Cheeks Elementary School’s Math and Science Night (in support of STEM Education)
  • May: Toured the Fab Lab at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville VA
  • June: Steam Punk Costume Maker Build Party (Teen Event) at Game Over Comics
  • June: Teen Steam Punk Ball at May Memorial Library June: Took Part in ARRL National Field Day supporting K4EG The Alamance Amateur Radio Club
  • June: Ben attended “Contemporal” a Steam Punk Convention in Raleigh NC (in support of Brett King, Dave Lee, and Stephen Chapman, also made more contacts for the Burlington Mini Maker Faire)
  • June: By invitation, Ben and Danny attended the “Maker Summit” in Arlington VA and learned about the study “Impact of the Maker Movement” by Delloite University Press. While there they were able to network with national and international Makers, Educators, Government Officials, and Industry Officials.
  • July: Helped with “Maker Day” at May Memorial Library
  • July: Attended the grand opening of “The Forge” a new Maker Space in Greensboro NC
  • July: Petitioned the Mayor of Burlington and the Burlington City Council to become involved in the “Mayor’s Maker Challenge” a joint project of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and the Manufacturers Alliance of Communities. (Burlington joined and we now have a Maker Liason with City Government)
  • August: Exhibited at 4th Friday in Downtown Burlington
  • August: Exhibited at the WHODAT Music Festival at DooDad Farm.
  • August: Exhibited at “Engineers Day” at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham NC
  • September: Ben, Ilsa, and Kindle attended a day-long Maker Faire Producers Workshop prior to World Maker Faire. The afternoon session was all about Maker Cities and Maker Communities. September: Ben took part (and spoke briefly) at “The State of Alamance” event held by the Triad Business Journal at Alamance Community College. The focus was on Education in Alamance County.
  • October: Exhibited and Supported Manufacturing Night at the Forge in Greensboro
  • October: Exhibited at the 4th Annual Piedmont Green Gala October: Ben spoke at the “Tectonic Plates Science Cafe” at the Fat Frogg in Elon NC about Citizen Science and the Maker Movement
  • October: Took part in the Alamance Artisan’s Tour in specific supporting Ann Hobgood’s “Recycled Folks”
  • October: Took part in the Artstock Studio Tour in specific supporting Jim Gallucci’s Sculpture Studio
  • November: Supported Blessed Sacrament School’s Open House for STEM Science (STREAM Program)
  • November: Supported the Western Alamance High School Robotics Club as they hosted a First Technology Challenge Robotics Scrimmage at Elon University.
  • November: Attended a meeting of the Piedmont Triad Woodturners (Supporting a ShopBot Demonstration)
  • December: Attended the Triangle Blacksmith’s Guild Meeting and toured arts facilities December: Attended the Open House at the Foothills Community Workshop Makerspace in Granite Falls NC.
  • December: Ben spoke at the “Switchpoint MAKER” event in Raleigh NC
  • December: Supported the Western Alamance High School Robotics Club and other regional First Technology Challenge Robotics Team by volunteering at the Regional Qualifier Event. AMG members acted as judges, referees, score keepers, and volunteers
  • December: Fielded a team of volunteers for “Maker Day at the Museum” Holiday Maker Workshops at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham

Other big news and growth in 2014

In 2014 the city of Burlington North Carolina signed up to be involved in the “Mayor’s Maker Challenge” The Challenge is a project created by the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, and the Manufacturing Alliance of Communities, a DC Think Thank centered around the Manufacturing Industry. The Challenge came about as part of the White House Maker Faire and the National Day of Making. The Mayor of Burlington and the Burlington City Council approved Burlington’s joining the Challenge in July of this year and Ben spoke before a City Council Meeting pledging the Alamance Makers Guild support for the City as we continue to grow a Maker Community here. The city appointed Rachel Kelly, communications officer for the City of Burlington as Burlington’s “Maker Liason.” Since July Ben and Rachel have participated on conference calls with the White House and are working together to bring together different individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses around Burlington. We will see more work and opportunities coming out of the Mayor’s Maker Challenge in 2015 and beyond.

In 2014 the Alamance Makers Guild became involved with Blessed Sacrament School of Burlington. Blessed Sacrament School is a private K-8 school on a mission to be one of the best STEM schools in the nation. After seeing newspaper articles about Ben’s trip to the White House Maker Faire, BSS’s Assistant Principal Tiffany Stalek attended an Alamance Makers Guild meeting to check out what we were all about and find out what opportunities might exist for working together for the benefit of BSS Students. Since June Ben and other members of the Alamance Makers Guild have been supporting Blessed Sacrament by attending and volunteering at Open House events, acting as advisors on STEM Education programs, speaking to the students for STREAM Friday events, and working to connect Students, Teachers, and Parents to the Makers Guild. We’ve also connected Blessed Sacrament School to the folks at NC Near Space Research and are helping them with a semester long project to design, build, launch, recover, analyze, and publish results based upon multiple Hydrogen Near Space Balloon Missions to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. These missions will be launched at the 2015 Burlington Mini Maker Faire. Thanks to their amazing administration, teachers, staff, parents, and students (with some small amount of help from the Alamance Makers Guild), Blessed Sacrament School was awarded “Recognized STEM School of Distinction” from the NC State Department of Public Instruction. They are one of only 12 schools (and the only private school) to achieve this honor in 2014.

In 2014 the Alamance Makers Guild continued our support of the First Technology Challenge Robotics Program here in Alamance County. AMG Supporter Jochen Fisher is the advisor and coach of the Western Alamance High School Robotics Club and High School students involved in the club had a great year including hosting scrimmage events at Elon University in January and December, and then hosting a Regional Qualifying Round at Western Alamance High School. Jochen and the students of “Appeture Science” have attended many AMG events including exhibiting at the Burlington Mini Maker Faire. Alamance Makers Guild supporters helped out at the various First Robotics events around the area as judges, referees, score keepers, volunteers, and supporting spectators. Congratulations to Western Alamance High School Robotics Club for their achievements in 2014. Congratulations also to local Home-School Robotics Team “Plan B.”

The art and whimsy of Steam Punk continued to be a strong thread running through the Alamance Makers Guild in 2014. AMG Supporter Stephen Chapman published his first Steam Punk Novel “The Stonehenge Rift” this year. The Alamance Makers Guild also supported the “Teen Steam Punk Ball” held at May Memorial Library this summer, including a costume build party at Game Over Comics prior to the event. Ben also attended “Contemporal” in Raleigh to support our Steam Punk Supporters and Friends. Stephen Chapman, Dave Lee, and Brett King all had amazing exhibits at the event. Brett is the “Maker Coordinator” of Contemporal and put together some great panels for costume and prop builders, and an amazing exhibit at the Bizarre Bazaar. Through this outreach we also made new friends and may have recruited some amazing exhibits for the 2015 Burlington Mini Maker Faire. Throughout the year Stephen and Brett always amazed and entertained with their latest projects for Show-N-Tell at AMG open meetings.

We took our first steps at generating seed money for our future Maker Space for Alamance County in 2014. In the late summer Ben used his small Maker Business “Harris Educational” to launch a Kickstarter Crowd Funding Campaign around his Reivnenting Science Kits. Ben developed a new kit about Electromagnetism, and also offered existing kits like Reinventing Edison Build your own Light Bulb in custom engraved versions as rewards for the Kickstarter. The goal of the Kickstarter was two fold, generate funds to pay for expenses related to attending World Maker Faire and the Atlanta Maker Faire, and after expenses were paid, generate seed money that could go towards equipment and other expenses for starting our future Maker Space like hiring a local SEO consultant in Atlanta for example. The Kickstarter was a success passing our goal of $3500 and bringing in pledges of $6523.00 from 119 backers. Funds from the Kickstarter are being used to purchase a Printrbot Simple Metal Kit (with heated bed) and will suplement the future purchase of a Laser Cutter. These tools will be owned by Harris Educational but Alamance Makers Guild members will have access to the tools during the transitional period between now and when the Maker Space opens, and then in the space once the space is open. Thank you to everyone who promoted, supported, or donated to the Kickstarter!

Alamance Makers Guild In the News in 2014AMG-logo

The Alamance Makers Guild is making a splash in the community and as a result we, and our supporters have had some exposure in the media. Here are some of the stories about the Alamance Makers Guild from 2014.

Thanks to everyone who made 2014 an amazing year for the Alamance Makers Guild! Special thanks to Ilsa Spaan, Danny Oakley, Dan Porter, Kindle Cherry, Brian Byrd, Dick Snow, Nim Batchelor, Jochen Fischer (Plus Sons and Members of the Western Alamance Robotics Club), Angela Parrish, Corey Gillespie, Victor Cardenas, Michael Wood, Tiffany Stalek, Jack Martin, Chelsea Cattouse-Wilson, Mark Smith, Sarah and Tony Congdon, Jennifer Walker-Westmoreland, Brett King, Stephen Chapman, Jessica Harris, Amanda Avery, Matthew Hux, Heather Lagarde, Ian Baltutis, James Duxbury, Ann Hobgood, Ken Clayton, Darrian Stokes, Erin Loveland, Lee Atkinson, John Linville, Charles Wade, Wardelia Enoch, Bob Gusak, Emily Mathews, Joel Leonard, Randy Tate, Christopher Tate, Lon Cecil, Jessica Olson, Tricia Moss (and family), Michelle Folkman, Jim Branley, Kris Wiedenheft, Mitch McCollum, Tony Crider, Jimmy Xoinis, Terri Jones, Cary Worthy, Zac Schell, John Cassie and Sabrina Otero, and Matthew Wade.


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