Makers and community representatives from across the nation convened in Chattanooga Friday for the first day of NOMCON, the Nation of Makers Conference, to discuss the growing makers movement.
The Washington, D.C.-based Nation of Makers focuses on promoting impactful creators by "encouraging connections, sharing resources, facilitating funding opportunities and advocating for the maker movement." In the second year of its conference, Nation of Makers has partnered with Mayor Andy Berke, who prides Chattanooga on being a "City of Creators."
"By that, and this is my personal view, we are all endowed with God's gift of creativity and when we exercise that power, we get to our highest points," Berke said during the Maker Mayor's Collaboratory meeting Friday morning. "The makers [movement] is about each and every one of us being able to find that creativity and exercise that power."
The first day of the three-day conference included a panel of remarkable young local creators moderated by Mythbusters' Adam Savage and hosted in the Chattanooga Public Library's Makerspace.
"This space opened in 2013 and the whole idea was that we wanted the Chattanooga Public Library to be a place where you could create content instead of just consuming it," Library Director Corrine Hill said ahead of the panel.
The panel was comprised of 11-year-old Mikayla Sanders, a Makerspace regular and creator of the Black Inventors Traveling Museum; Kaitlyn Melda, 13, who designs assisting orthotics locally; Hayle Mack, a recent high school graduate who helped establish one of the local Volkswagen eLabs; and Diego Lourenco, a recent high school graduate who created intricate artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.
Savage highlighted through the young makers' stories the importance of a variety of kinds of creation.
"I view [making] as wide as any time we use our point of view and use it to make something from nothing, whether it's a poem or a dress or a car we are making," Savage said. "That means that we are not just participating in culture but we are culture."
The creators reflected on the importance of local educational opportunities in the development of their process and ability to build upon failure for effective innovation.
"Not all of us learn with paper and pen, some of us use numbers, some of us use kinetic energy, some of us use music," Sanders said.
"Sometimes we'll make something and they'll tell us that this and this and this are wrong with it so we'll have to go in and change it," Melda said of her experience creating custom orthotics. "So then we'll go through it like five or six times, but we could continue to keep making it better. There's no extent to how good something can get."
The remaining conference includes keynote speeches, six programming tracks and a variety of networking opportunities — including a dedicated project planning session on Sunday plus a lunch and learn on Saturday.
For more on the Nation of Makers group or NOMCON, visit nationofmakers.us
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.