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White House, Civic Partnerships Celebrate National Week of Making

June 23, 2016

This week, the White House is celebrating its third National Week of Making – an important part of its Nation of Makers initiative that seeks to expand opportunities for students and adults to engage with the maker movement. In addition to numerous commitments and announcements made at federal agencies, several other projects rooted in strong partnerships were announced. These include the distribution of a million microscopes to children from around the world by Foldscope Instruments, the investment in 100 new makerspaces by Google and Chevron, and the release of the Maker City Playbook.

As in previous years, the Obama administration produced a White House Fact Sheet in honor of the National Week of Making to highlight the new steps announced by federal agencies and other partnerships that seek to leverage the maker movement. Several of these commitments are particularly relevant to technology-based economic development organizations. For example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is committing up to $2 million in existing funds for Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers to develop consulting and technical-services programs that support makers interested in scaling prototypes.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced new categories for their Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) and for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, both called “Maker to Manufacturer.” The CCIC category will focus on developing the tools needed to help the maker movement be more accessible, while the SBIR/STTR subtopic will seek proposals focused on innovative, high-risk technologies with the potential to enable and leverage the maker community. 

Additional activities announced by federal agencies to support the maker movement include:

  • An agreement between The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) regional Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs) and the YMCA to create mobile maker spaces and provide maker ambassadors to support students in those places;
  • The launch of the Maker Mentor Initiative by The Navy-led Joint Advanced Manufacturing Region IPT (JAMR IPT), which will create a national registry where experienced manufacturers can volunteer to serve as technical subject matter experts and mentors for interested makers;
  • A collaborative pilot program between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Innovation and 3D Veterans that will help to train veterans in using 3D printing techniques;
  • Streamlined web resources from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intended to assist makers and other first-time entrepreneurs with navigating the regulatory landscape around industries such as medical devices;
  • An expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting a culture of digital learning in school districts; and,
  • An extension of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative to provide opportunities to build and launch satellites in all 50 states. 

To support the role of makers in urban economic development, the Maker City Project, a collaboration between the Kauffman Foundation, the Gray Area for the Arts, and Maker Media, released the Maker City Playbook to provide how-to information based on case studies and interviews across more than 20 U.S. cities. Furthermore, several other efforts beyond those at federal agencies were announced to support the broader maker movement as part of the Week of Makers. Examples of these commitments include:  

  • With financial support from Chevron and Google, more than 1,400 schools across all 50 states and representing more than one million students are signing the Maker Promise, a pledge to  dedicate physical spaces for making, designate a champion for making, and, host a public showcase of what the students made;
  • A continuance of the Make Schools Alliance and new commitments from 77 colleges and universities to support the maker movement on campus and in the community; and,
  • A partnership between Foldscope Instruments, Prakash Lab, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to provide 1 million Foldscope Origami microscopes to children around the world in 2017. 

Full details on the commitments made as part of the 2016 National Week of Making can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/Blog/2016%20National%20Week%20of%20Making%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

white house, manufacturing