In July, my colleague Matt Rohr, Onshape principal technical services engineer, and I traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to participate in Make48. This is a 48-hour design competition between eight teams of makers with varying ages and levels of experience.
Since Onshape is the exclusive CAD software of Make48, Matt and I were there to assist the teams so they could make their ideas come to life in Onshape.
Each team had to create deliverables that included marketing materials, a working prototype, and an Onshape rendering. There was a lot to get excited about during the event.
I’ve highlighted some of my favorite parts below.
Helping Make48 Ideas Come to Life
Working with the contestants to refine their designs for prototyping and rendering was rewarding.
As mentioned previously, participant skill levels varied greatly. Some were able to CAD their concepts with very little help. Some created nice pencil sketches that allowed Matt and I to CAD their vision. Both cases gave us the opportunity to see their spirits come alive with the designs.
The fun continued when we worked with other tool techs invited into the Onshape Documents to fabricate prototypes. Minor changes were handled so quickly and with no thumb drives or servers to set up. We would make the changes and the fabricators were able to collect the data from their own Onshape accounts.
Setting up 40-plus users with legacy systems and only two of us would have been a feat in itself to accomplish in 48 hours. With Onshape, we were able to get right to business within minutes in a competition where every second counts!
Some tips we shared with the contestants:
Have a clear idea of what your team would like to produce
Collaborate on your idea through your design (that's where Onshape fits in!)
Iterate the design before you build your prototype
Make renders before you build a prototype
Here I am helping a contestant. Matt is in the background. (Courtesy: Cassandra Munoz)
Working with Young Minds
This may have been the highlight of this experience for me. Imagination unencumbered by constraints of physics and engineering can provide some fantastic ideas!
Freeing one from those constraints can force others to create new technologies, processes, or ideas that would not be considered. In this event, coupled with the various mentors involved with the event, novel ideas came to life.
I’d share some examples, but you have to watch the show to find out.
Meeting Make48 Host Jay Flores
Jay Flores lives at the intersection of athletics and STEM. As an American Ninja Warrior contestant, mechanical engineer, and STEM advocate, I was starstruck immediately.
However, he was very approachable and friendly. He was eager to share how he is engaging youth with demonstrative physics and making learning fun. Watching the first few episodes of the show on PBS, his enthusiasm is captured on the screen, too!
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Inspiration from the Harley-Davidson Museum
I didn't realize how much I didn’t know about the legendary motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson. If you are in Milwaukee and interested in history, engineering, manufacturing, or, of course, motorcycles, the Harley-Davidson Museum is a must-see for you.
We joined the contestants on a trip to this museum to find inspiration for the competition. There is an interactive engine wall that shows the development and inner workings of the engines over the nearly 120-year history of the company. Similarly, there is a Tank Wall that showcases the evolution of these iconic tanks since 1903. The visit clearly inspired the projects each team created.
Matt and I at the Make48 event. (Courtesy: Arina Guseva)
The Makerspace at the MIAD
It has been too long since I have been in a proper space that is capable of creating intricate and diverse prototypes and models, like The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), which hosted this event for 48 hours. For the rest of the year, the institute offers degree programs in a variety of subjects.
During the event, much of the work was done in the 20,000-square-foot space, which allowed the creation of almost anything the contestants could create. The lab was monitored by the generous faculty that help facilitate the team’s creations.
Overall, participating in this event was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to join and help out in another Make48 event. The creativity, energy, and talent made the long hours worthwhile!
Regional episodes are released on YouTube and the national competition is aired on PBS.