O’Reilly Media’s Make division, in partnership with Otherlab, has received an award from The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in support of its Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach (MENTOR) program. The Team will help advance DARPA’s Mentor program, an initiative aimed at introducing new design tools and collaborative practices of making to high school students.
Makerspace, developed by Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly Media and Dr. Saul Griffith of Otherlab, will integrate online tools for design and collaboration with low-cost options for physical workspaces where students may access educational support to gain practical hands-on experience with new technologies and innovative processes to design and build projects.
The MENTOR effort is part of the DARPA’s Adaptive Vehicle Make program portfolio and is aimed at engaging high school students in a series of collaborative distributed manufacturing and design experiments. The overarching objective of MENTOR is to develop and motivate a next generation cadre of system designers and manufacturing innovators by exposing them to the principles of foundry-style digital manufacturing through modern prize-based design challenges.
The MENTOR contract award provides the initial year of funding for what is expected to be a four-year program. Â Throughout the program, O’Reilly Media and Otherlab will work to develop both a physical and digital workspace for collaborative design and manufacturing in high schools. Students will have access to sophisticated new tools for digital pattern making that allow them to create complex 3D objects using a variety of manufacturing methods, including low-cost manual or machine techniques. By making the dependency on specialized equipment optional, a broader range of schools may participate in the program, adding these tools later if needed. These tools also embody advanced methods for completing distributed design and manufacturing.
The Makerspace program will also integrate technologies that have been widely adopted by makers such as Arduino, an open-source microcontroller, and 3D printers such as the Makerbot. In addition, the program will adapt kits developed by makers for use in schools.
“I see this effort as an opportunity to extend the Maker movement into schools,” said Dale Dougherty, who foundedÂ Make MagazineÂ andÂ Maker Faire. “Through Maker Faire, we’ve seen tremendous interest among young people to engage in making things and this effort helps develop opportunities that can work in a variety of school contexts for a variety of students.” Student projects developed under the Makerspace program will be exhibited at Maker Faire.
As part of the proposal, Dr, Saul Griffith, a MacArthur “genius” fellow, will develop design tools for “digital pattern making” and the sharing of designs and expertise. The goal is to build a social, collaborative platform for students to share their work across schools. “Engineering is perhaps the last field to benefit from the introduction of social tools for collaboration,” explained Dr. Griffith, who is also the co-creator ofÂ HowToons, a popular cartoon-based approach to teaching engineering skills. “Makerspace supports the idea that engaging in the process of making is valuable in a very broad sense,” said Griffith. “Making can be viewed as a life skill, and it can establish a lifelong interest in science and technology.”
The Makerspace program begins in the 2012-13 school year. Ten California high schools will be selected to participate in the pilot program. Information about the Makerspace program will be available onÂ makerspace.com.
Otherlab, located in San Francisco, California, is a Clean Tech Do-Tank and developer of next generation algorithmic design tools.
O’Reilly Media, located in Sebastopol, California, is a technical publisher and conference organizer known for its advocacy of Open Source, the Web and the Maker movement.