NOMCON (Nation of Makers (twitter ; website)) is creating a network of makers across the United States. This was their second national conference (last year was in SantaFe). #NOMCON19 was a place to meet makers from near and far (yes, I met people from back home), hear what is happening across the country, find more contacts, get ideas and generally chat Maker for 3 days. They support and promote Maker Faires and National Week of Making and #Makers in general. If you are a Maker (everyone is, actually) or part of a MakerSpace, you should check them out. NOMCON2020 will be in Eugene , Oregon in mid-June. (i really want to visit Eugene for the wineries)
When I arrived in Chattanooga on Thursday night, I walked (about 0.5 mi) to “City Cafe” and had some good ice tea and a nice chicken sandwich. Then I walked to and around the Convention Center (2 blocks from there), headed to the Library since it was a couple of blocks away, and picked up the free electric shuttle headed to the Aquarium. I got out there and walked around that block area, then headed back down Broad looking in the window of the many shops and restaurants along the way and finally back to the hotel. I like that more cities are providing a free shuttle to get around. It might only go north/south or east/west, but it gets you from one end of town to the other easily. And this one was electric, so even better
Friday had a schedule of “pre-event” tours : Woodworking Academy, VWeLabs, Toy hack, Discovery Museum, MakerSpace, Incubator, Public Library, Aquarium, Branch Tech, Mueller Tech. Then there was a reception in the City park, which has a live band and food trucks for Friday nights. I chose the Woodworking Academy, Toy Hack and Discovery Museum. I wish there had been time to also go to the Aquarium. The Woodworking Academy is a nonprofit 4 year trade school for adults. It has been operating for 7 years and has groups of about 6 students in each year. The Children’s Discovery Museum is a very good, interactive place with several #Maker areas. We saw the kitchen space that has a cooking class a couple of times a week. They would like to offer more, but it is a personnel/budget issue. We made tiny decorative pillows in the sewing area. There is a space to use scraps to just build something as well as more traditional arts & crafts and painting and music making areas.
I also did the Toy Hack, which I liked best because of the actual making piece (there is not much making going on a NOMCON, more informational). Toy hack is about taking a toy that has control buttons built in, and hacking larger buttons on to it. Cut open the toy, splice wires, attach a plug that can plug into a larger button. This would be a good project to get STEAM & #Maker groups involved with. It starts you thinking about other adaptive technologies that could be useful to people with limitations. AT Makers is a national group working on this.
There were several keynotes and many sessions. Some things I learned. UTeach Maker in Austin is getting pre-service teachers involved in #MakerEd. Berry College has a Creative Technologies major that focuses on the entrepreneur maker. STEAM Truck in Atlanta charges $1000 per day (half grant funded) and looks more for long term projects with schools, like 20 days scattered over a semester or year. Sonya Pryor Jones is developing a Maker House project in Cleveland, a way to get maker into the community, a Community FabLab in a house with a resident maker educator. So many people (okay only a few hundred) and so many ideas. Gokul is working on bringing more maker ideas into hospitals for patients “I spent 8 hours making this that I forgot I was in the hospital”. The Social Justice Sewing Academy has workshops where students design blocks or whole quilts about an issue, then has a network of quilters that make them. I met Adam Savage (Mythbusters, Savage Builds) and talked for a minute. I met Dale Daugherty, the many who started Make magazine and Maker Faire. Yes, it is going through “restructuring” but he is hopeful he will keep things live.
My adventure to #NOMCON started Wednesday night (the night before I was leaving), running errands around home. One of my brakes started making a REAL bad noise when stopping (so it’s only bad when i want to stop). Panic ensues as I was planning on driving to Chattanooga. I eventually decided to get a flight for the next day. I usually prefer to fly, but was trying to save money this trip. But since i bought a ticket the night before instead of a month before….
I learned that you are not allowed to use a seatbelt extension in an exit row of an airplane. I therefore learned that I do not fit in the exit row. Some seatbelts are shorter than others. Both flights were a little warm and stuffy.
Got to lovely, sunny Chattanooga, and the hotel is remodeling. Lobby, rooms, pool… And there is road and highway construction nearby, so the sidewalk on our side of the 5 lane road is closed heading to the Convention Center. The other side is “open” with a construction barrier between pedestrians and traffic.
all of my pictures are below :