By Emily Shalk
Penn Engineering’s GRASP Lab robots, aerial vehicles and art all came together on Sunday, June 24, as one of the main attractions at the first Philadelphia Mini Maker Faire.
Ghost Minitaur and RHex, biologically inspired robots from GRASP’s Kod*lab, interacted with visitors. Students from GRASP’s ModLab demonstrated a new propeller for tiny unmanned aerial vehicles and Elizabeth Hunter, a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, shared her work on micro-robots. Attendees could also explore the Nomadic Monument for Women in Robotics, an art installation by GRASP staff Diedra Krieger and Gabriela Alfaro.
Divya Ramesh, a master’s student in Electrical Engineering and a research assistant in Kod*lab, said, “We’re here because we create and make biologically inspired robots. Not a lot of companies are interested in making robots that look and move this way, and we want people to know about the work that we’re doing, and how we’re different from the others.”
“I’ve never been to a Maker Faire before, so I’m just kind of taking it all in,” added Abriana Stewart-Height, a doctoral student in Electrical and Systems Engineering and Kod*lab member.
Maker Faires are gatherings of “makers” — people interested in arts, crafts, and engineering — that take place around the world. Almost one hundred maker groups came to the Philadelphia Mini Maker Faire from the surrounding area, and presenters included everyone from local high school students to representatives from NASA.
The event took place at the Pennovation Center, Penn’s hub for innovation and new business ventures, and was run by local engineers and entrepreneurs Marvin Weinberger and Bruce Wilner, along with an army of volunteers. Weinberger estimated that the first Philly Mini Maker Faire drew a crowd of about two thousand.
“The students were amazing,” he said. “They drew a large continuous crowd, including lots of younger people, who were educated, entertained and inspired by the work of the students from Penn Engineering.”
To catch the GRASP lab’s next demo, follow their twitter @GRASPlab or check out their website.