NSCAD hosts first Maker Symposium
March 20, 2014

Have you ever grappled with a problem and come up with a solution so brilliant that you wondered why no one had done it before? Or maybe you just like the idea of making stuff, but don’t know where to begin. You might be a “maker,” part of a growing DIY culture that stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.

NSCAD University’s Institute for Applied Creativity, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Community Access Program (NSCAP), Halifax Makerspace, and with support from the Province of Nova Scotia, is hosting the first annual Seaport Maker Symposium from March 28 to 30.

The goal of the symposium is to connect the growing urban and rural maker community, create opportunities for breakthroughs in new technology, commercialization and productivity, network, share ideas and have fun.

Kicking off the symposium, the opening keynote will focus on the use of new technology in re-imagining prosthetics. Artificial limbs have come a long way, and nobody knows this better than NSCAD graduate Natasha Hope-Simpson who wears a prosthetic on her left leg following a hit-and-run collision in Wolfville last November. “It’s a big clunky type thing,” she says cheerfully. “I look down and see an elephant’s foot.”

Inspired after seeing her speak to NSCAD Prof. Barbara Lounder’s Foundation class, Institute Director Gregor Ash connected the young artist with Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Dakov from Thinking Robot Studios and Mike Fanning from NovaCAD Systems. It was the beginning of a wonderful collaboration that will culminate with a keynote address at the symposium. They will recount the process they undertook to design, engineer and 3D print a customized, fully functional prototype for Natasha—“moving from a Barbie foot to dream prosthetic” in less than four weeks. Made of a tough polymer, the finished prosthetic will be fitted perfectly to Natasha's injured leg and be outfitted with a decorative art panel that can be changed out.

“How this all came together is a perfect example of what we hope to explore at the symposium,” says Ash. “I’m excited by the intersection of new, accessible technologies that allows customizable solutions-- both aesthetic and unique-- and the opportunities this creates, right here in Nova Scotia.”

Over three days, the Seaport Maker Symposium will bring connect hobbyists, academics, entrepreneurs, students and industry folks for demonstrations, workshops and panel discussions.

You don’t need to know how to put together a circuit board or use a 3D printer, but you’ll probably know how to do both things by the time you’re done. Program highlights include:

  1. Opening plenary – State of the NS Maker Nation
  2. Make Your Maker – CNC Master Maker Workshop: Construct a Printrbot 3D Printer
  3. Celebrate International Arduino Day: Game Design with Makey Makey; Intro to Robotic Motor Control, The Naked Arduino; and more…
  4. Workshops and breakout sessions: Walking Stick as Muse; Eco-Fabrication, CNC for Totally Normal Attractive People Like Us; 3D Scanning Tips and Tricks; Intro to Soldering and more …
  5. Meet Your Maker – networking, socializing and exchanging ideas

All events take place at the NSCAD Port Campus (1071 Marginal Rd), next door at the Institute for Applied Creativity (1061 Marginal Rd), Pier 21 (1051 Marginal Rd) and Volta Labs (5451 Spring Garden Road). Admission is free but space is limited. To see the full program and register, please visit the website at www.nscad-iac.ca.

NSCAD acknowledges the generous support of the Province of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Community Access Program, Halifax Makerspace, Thinking Robot Systems, NovaCAD Systems, Ragot CAD/CMM, Discovery Centre, Volta Labs, T4G and Spring Loaded Technologies.

About the NSCAD University Institute for Applied Creativity:
The Institute for Applied Creativity (IAC) at NSCAD University sustains inter-institution and inter-sector collaboration in innovation and research with a mandate to support knowledge transfer and commercialization where possible. In addition, the Institute serves as a multi-disciplinary hub that connects NSCAD faculty and students to external partners, fostering dynamic relationships through design innovation. Through access to NSCAD’s world-class faculty and facilities, combined with new 3D visualization/immersion and rapid prototyping technologies, both within the Institute and accessible through external partnerships, we provide a strong foundation for the pursuit of our mandate. The Institute for Applied Creativity is located next door to NSCAD’s Port Campus. The address is 1061 Marginal Rd., Halifax.

 The spark

Students in Barbara Lounder's Foundation-year Constructed Forms class listened to Natasha Hope Simpson’s wish-list for a better prosthetic limb—one that could be beautiful and feminine as well as provide function and balance to her appearance. As a physically active person, she also wanted a leg that could get wet and work in the water. The students worked in small groups, mocking up ideas and using simple materials like cardboard, bungee cords, wire and Styrofoam to create 3D prototypes. Then Natasha got to try out what they made and provide feedback.

"This was such a powerful experience for first-year students. They got to see how the creative process and 3D principals could come into play in real-life circumstances,” says Prof. Lounder. “Plus they were very inspired by Natasha’s positivity and creativity.”