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MakerCon to celebrate innovation, technology at Tampa fairgrounds

— Experts with FreeFab 3D will demonstrate how to use a 3D printer. Gamers on the Edge will showcase their charity gaming events and the USF Robotics Interest Group will exhibit fighting robots.

Gulf Coast MakerCon, celebrating the innovative spirit, is scheduled for April 18 at the Florida State Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is all about empowering people to invent and develop new projects, but also to learn the basics behind the technology people use every day.

Funded in part by a grant from Hillsborough County’s Economic Development Innovation Initiative, or EDI2, the event is expected to draw 66 maker groups and 800-1,000 guests. Those who purchase tickets by Tuesday can get them for $8. There is also an early bird four-pack of tickets for $25. Entry will otherwise cost $12 at the door.

“In four years, this event has grown immeasurably,” said Terri Willingham of the Eureka!Factory, who is helping produce the event with Chad Mairn of St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab and Mo Eppley of MityMo Creative. The concept of making isn’t new, she said. People have been creating and making since the beginning of time. “But what is really important is to move our society from passive consumption to active creation.”

Made in Florida, a project out of Hillsborough Community College’s Brandon Campus, focuses on jobs related to manufacturing in Florida. Arlene Gillis, program director of orthotics and prosthetics at St. Petersburg College will have her students there helping to demonstrate 3D printing. And there will be a wide range of workshops and activities for every age group, including a Young Makers section for kids and families.

Patent development, the inventive process, itself, programming and design will all be included.

Mairn said he has seen plenty of interesting local inventions walk through the door of the St. PetersburgCollege maker space.

. “We had a plumber come in who had invented a plastic piece to keep rats out of residential sewer lines. And a guy came in who had been unable to find a plastic part for his refrigerator. He designed it and had it printed in 3D and it worked perfectly.”

Mairn said he also works with a lot of music students interested in modular synthesis and is able to instruct them using kits that control voltage, which controls sounds. “We also do a lot of drone workshops.”

People are eating up all this technology, Willingham said, whether it is learning to create animation, robotics or how to construct a gadget that can be used every day in the home.

And that’s not all.

Electrathon of Tampa Bay — high schoolers and their electric cars — will be there, as will Inventors Showcase, hosted by Tampa Bay Inventors Council. And Heritage Crafters who will demonstrate old-school making like blacksmithing and cloth weaving.

For a full listing of makers attending the event, visit http://gulfcoastmakers.com, then click on Gulf Coast Makercon.

[email protected]

(813) 259-7127

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported what FreeFab 3D planned to demonstrate at Gulf Coast MakerCon as well as Mo Eppley’s and Chad Mairn’s business relationship.

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