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April 30, 2017

Cornell Hosts First Maker Faire, Bolsters Student Entrepreneurs

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Cornell’s own student entrepreneurs showcased their projects and heard presentations from Ithaca-based professional entrepreneurs at Cornell’s first Maker Faire on Saturday.

Maker Faires, like the one this weekend, are held worldwide to highlight the work of ‘makers’ across STEM, humanities, art and startup communities. Cornell’s own event featured numerous on-campus clubs and project teams ranging across all undergraduate colleges.

“The Maker Faire was a great exhibition of what happens when students break down barriers between seemingly different areas of interest and combine their passions into a tangible product or idea,” said Simran Shinh ‘20. “Fields like engineering and art can often become more powerful when combined than when separated.”

The students presented their entrepreneurial ideas and products during the exhibition phase of the event, held on the Arts Quad. Mingled with the project teams, performance groups on campus, such as Yamatai, <3 Acapella, Illuminations, Wushu and Absolute Zero, also took part during this phase of the event.

The event then transitioned to a speaker series of influential entrepreneurs in the Ithaca community in Goldwin Smith Hall. Each speaker shared their personal projects and the importance of the ‘making’ culture in solving world problems.

Prof. David Schneider, systems engineering, described his work through Cornell Cup — an embedded systems design competition. He emphasized that true makers must think of “what is it that I really want to meet the need of. What is the challenge I want to solve?” rather than what the final product should be.

Ken Rother, member of Cornell’s eLab teaching team, spoke about his journey from bringing a buildable clock kit idea.
From concept to implementation to an actual product available in the market, Rother stressed that the entrepreneur must be conscious of the consumer and the problem the product aims to solve.

“You are not your customer,” Rother said. “If you ask what they want, they aren’t going to be able to tell you, but if you ask about the problem they have then progress can be made.”