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The Tinkering Spirit In Beloit, Wisconsin } Make48 Recap

In Beloit, Wisconsin several members of the community set out to create the perfect activity game to be played in the cold.

Many successful entrepreneurs banded together to bring Make48’s 2-day innovation event to Many successful entrepreneurs banded together to bring Make48’s 2-day innovation event to The Lincoln Academy, a K4-12 public charter school serving Wisconsin residents. Faculty, students, parents and businesses spent the weekend assisting teams with everything from building prototypes to keeping the caffeine in stock. From 6am until midnight, the technicians fabricated using a variety of tools including cnc, 3d printing, welding and more. Daylight savings time didn’t slow the teams down and it was a mad dash at the end.

Dr. Kristi Cole, the Chief Education Officer of The Lincoln Academy, was Make48’s TLA host and helped orchestrate the competition. She did double duty as a supporter of her daughter Hannah who was the team leader of The Mighty Lions. Dr. Cole told us, “Make48 was a wonderful opportunity for The Lincoln Academy. It blended well with our career exploration focus and it was really an incredible opportunity for the city of Beloit. There are a number of innovators from Beloit, and we wanted to show our scholars what innovation was all about.”

Dr. Cole at The Lincoln Academy

Along with Tool Technicians from Onshape, MatterHackers, Airgas, Fastenal and ShopBot Tools, Dr. Cole introduced the group to Matthew Schultz, the technology and engineering director at TLA. When Matt heard about the opportunity he was excited since he’s been a maker since 2015. “All the things I do with my classes and that I teach, are secretly done at home ahead of time, making sure it works. I love to tinker. I love to fabricate. I love learning new things. But most of all, I love empowering that passion with other people, and I feel that's contagious, and it makes me a better maker, and it makes the people around them be better makers as well.” There were a number of things Matt was looking forward to before the competition. “As a tool tech, I'm eager to expand my network of people that have a similar passion as me. And that's making things. It's cool to see and talk with people and share ideas and stories about things we've made and things we want to make and how we're doing that.”

PTC Onshape’s education program lead, McKenzie Brunelle and Drew Bennett, Education Technical Services Engineer, helped teams create 3D models of their ideas to be shown to judges as part of their criteria of the challenge. Onshape has been an incredible partner at the competition by helping the contestants bring their prototypes to life by enabling them to create virtual 3D models that were turned into physical products. Contestants spent a lot of time with the Onshape team. McKenzie told cameras, “It's a great opportunity to help someone who may not have had an opportunity to make something before coming up with a really cool idea and bringing it to life.”

ShopBot Tools has been a supporter of Make48 since season one. Alex Hardison ran the CNC at the competition where he assisted the teams and helped create the trophies for the winning teams. He spoke to our film crew on why he returned to the event. “The thing that I love about Make48 is the constant ideation. Where you have just a pure idea, and it turns into a product in less than two days is a magical experience. ShopBot has always been a big part of the maker community. This is my second time around, so when I heard there was an opportunity to come and help, I said ‘let's do it.’”

“Winter Outdoor Activities” was the theme of the 2-day event. Teams pulled together and found themselves thinking about their favorite winter activity. Innovation runs deep in Beloit.

Kerry Frank, Director of Beloit 200, is a successful entrepreneur herself and loves helping others realize their potential and dreams. Beloit is a small city, situated on the river that brought the industrial phase to help build a city in the 19th century. Kerry believes that’s where the heart of Beloit’s innovation set in. “Beloit has been innovative since the 1800’s. The city had a huge influx of African-Americans, Italians, Germans, who moved here because there were jobs. I think that’s where the magic was. There’s a strong midwest work ethic and people love it here.”

George Whittier and Kerry Frank

As Kerry also touched on, there are many local companies bringing innovation to people around the world. George Whittier (Fairbanks Morse Defense), Gary Aigner (PlayMonster), Prudy Harker (Life Circle/Korn Kurls), Vivien Sheehan (Kerry) and Dan Lee (NorthStar Technologies) spoke to Make48’s Tom Gray about their footprints in innovation. From biotechnology to popular games and food innovation, Beloit has the tinkering spirit.

After 48 hours, a supply run at Harris Ace Hardware and a coffee refill, guests gathered for the closing ceremonies to hear the teams pitch their products to a judging panel made up of an engineer from Fairbanks Morse Defense, a toy buyer from Blain's Farm & Fleet and the head of national account sales for PlayMonster. Two trophies were handed out, including the people’s choice award and a trophy that represented the cheesehead state for the first-place winning team. Thank you to the incredible teams who represented Beloit’s American ingenuity. In a few months, the winners will be announced and will head to Kansas City this spring to represent the city at Nationals.

Beloit-Make48 Images (11/3 - 11/6) - Slider

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