Yesterday, the sprawling Makers Faire on the White House lawn launched the United State’s first annual National Day of Making, a celebration of the creative spirit that the White House says has led to the current “renaissance in American manufacturing.” The maker movement has sparked explosive ideas in the realms of 3D printing, robotics, DIY electronics and beyond.
The crazy thing about the maker movement is that it’s causing, in the words of the President, “a democratization of manufacturing that is potentially available because of technology.” Anybody can become a maker, opening the field to the fantastical ideas that, until now, were trapped in the heads of those without the years of training — or access to mad stacks of cash — necessary for making cool stuff.
Driving that point home, the White House’s invite list includes a gaggle of techno-magicians so young that they’ve only heard about MySpace from memes and legends — yet who are still at the forefront of some of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. The remarkable accomplishments of these kids instantly cause jealous flashbacks to how comparatively useless we were as teenagers, but simultaneously bring waves of hope for the future. Here are five young inventors from today’s festivities who probably have an opinion about whether or not millennials are useless.
Joey Hudy, 16
The Creators Project covered Joey Hudy’s inspiring intellect in a documentary this past May, and his brilliance shows no signs of slowing down. After launching a marshmallow cannon with the President back in 2012, Hudy returned to the White House lawn to show off his latest project, a 3x3x3 LED shield, powered by the Intel Galileo development board.
Quin Etnyre, 13
The 13-year-old electronics prodigy Quin Etnyre puts the you in do-it-yourself, as the young guy launched a successful electronics company before he reached his teens. He genuinely makes the world a better place by creating easy-to-use starter kits for those looking to break into the wild world of Arduino. He’s even stuck his thumb into the wearable industry with an LED-enabled hat, and taught MIT grad students about the future of electronics. Yup, a 13-year-old was lecturing MIT grad students.
Camille Beatty, 14, and Genevieve Beatty, 12
Camille and Genevieve Beatty are the youngest members of Beatty Robotics. The two girls make up the bulk of the Asheville, NC team, since the only other member is their father, Robert Beatty. This fact makes their accomplishments that much more incredible — the family crew has constructed a 16-legged robot called Aluminalis and a working replica of the Mars rover, which they brought to today’s Maker Faire.
Adrian Niles, 18
Adrian Niles may be too young to enjoy a cold brew with the boys, but it seems he’s old enough to create a fresh version of the Segway from the ground up. Succinctly entitled, “The People Mover,” Niles’ invention uses updated circuitry, brand new safety features and a DIY aesthetic to breathe new life into the standing motorized vehicle industry. It doesn’t hurt that the project was designed with the elderly in mind. If this catches on, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” could become a relic of the past.
Darius McCoy, 16
3D-printing stole the show at the Maker Faire today, from 3D-printed letters to a robotic pancake printer. Darius McCoy was a young standout in this area. He has created several 3D-printers with his bare hands, and even runs his own 3D-printing company with the appropriately awesome name, Frozen Lava.
It’s inspiring to watch how naturally these young innovators express themselves through the burgeoning technology in the same way generations past expressed themselves through, say, unwanted public guitar performances of “Stairway to Heaven.” There might be some hope for our country’s future, after all.