The second annual MakerX Expo is a festival that allows inventors and “tinkerers” to showcase their projects, including Capital students with creations from video games to pinball machines.
The expo will take place this Saturday, April 6, but the preparation started in the basement of Blackmore Library—in the prototyping lab, with Scholar in Residence, Bill Ball.
Ball runs the prototyping lab and teaches classes that help students learn how to use the machinery in the lab. His involvement with technology like 3D printing and prototyping started at another university, but MakerX started here.
“When I came to Columbus, Columbus didn’t have a maker festival,” Ball said. “So, as I got to meet other people who work with students, we decided that we really needed to start one, and I played the lead role.”
Ball serves on the planning committee for this event, which is now in its second year.
“MakerX is a festival about creating with technology,” Ball said. “It’s a one-day, public event, where people can come and learn about all the things others are doing.”
Technologies like robotics, virtual reality games, 3D printing, and game development will be showcased at MakerX. Creators of all levels are welcome, from high school teachers, professors, to individual creators.
“It’s a chance for educational institutions in the area to show what they’re doing and share it with the public,” Ball said. “The K-12 schools and universities are the core of the event.”
While Ball won’t be exhibiting, Capital will still have a booth run by Jeff Gress and students. Most students got involved with MakerX through taking classes with Ball.
Noah Sutton, senior computer science major, created a virtual pinball machine for Ball’s Rapid Prototyping class.
“We had free reign to create whatever we wanted as long as we were utilizing the maker space,” Sutton said. “So, I decided to make a virtual pinball machine.”
Because of Sutton’s involvement in the class, he has since entered his pinball machine in the MakerX Festival. The project took him about 40 hours to complete, and he had to build a wooden case to hold the monitor, as well as install arcade buttons to control the game.
“I’m excited to have an opportunity for other people to play it and to represent Capital,” Sutton said.
Another student, first-year Nathan Molby, is creating a video game called “Fight the Evolution.”
“You as the player create a creature, and then the creature ends up fighting in evolution essentially,” he said.
The video game simulates the process of evolution, creatures with different features, fighting each other. The point of the game is to tailor your creature to beat the others, effectively “fighting the evolution.”
Molby is in Ball’s extended reality class, which is how he got connected with MakerX.
“The project isn’t quite done yet, but I’m excited,” Molby said. “There’s some coding I have to do, I have to make the creature creator. It’s going to be a lot of head-down coding. I think, in the end, it will be a very simple game,” Molby said. “But it’s a game that I made and it’s cool nonetheless.”
For the extended reality class, students were required to work eight hours a week on their projects and have had eight progress reports due, so each student has about 64 hours of work into their project.
Ethan HartwigAlberg, junior, will also be representing Capital at MakerX by playing music for the booth. HartwigAlberg got involved with MakerX after DJing an event in room 121.
“I played music for an event and didn’t think much of it until I got an email from Chad Loughridge, who introduced me to Bill Ball,” HartwigAlberg said. For this event, HartwigAlberg will play a prepared set of dance music.
Bill Ball and his team expect around a thousand people to visit MakerX, along with over 100 exhibitors. The hope for this year is that the move to downtown Columbus will help raise turnout, since last year was further from the city. Ball also hopes for a stronger college student turnout and an overall diverse audience and age range.
“This is another venue for student creativity to be shown off,” Ball said. “There are five groups from OSU coming, CCAD, Columbus State, Otterbein, will all be there with students. For the college student, there will be plenty of other students that they can interact with.”
MakerX will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 6, at the Ohio Expo Center in the Buckeye Building. For more information or to buy tickets you can head to www.makerx.org.
You can find an informational video about MakerX with creator Bill Ball here.