Fun Friday! Happy Canada Day – Let’s Celebrate Making in Canada!

Happy Canada Day celebrating maker movement in Canada

With Canada Day upon us this weekend, we thought it a great time, as we celebrate being Canadian, to also celebrate what is becoming an enthusiastic and burgeoning movement of makers in this wonderful and diverse country of ours.

While do-it-yourselfers have been at it for time immemorial, the Maker Movement only took a definitive and more formalized form back in 2005 with the publication of MAKE: Magazine by Dale Dougherty.  Modern makers are typically identified by engaging in technological pursuits such as 3D printing, electronics, robotics, laser cutting, CNC milling, woodworking, metalworking, as well as conventional fashion design and arts and crafts.

However, a makerspace isn’t necessarily defined by the state-of-the-art equipment it offers.  Rather, it’s more of the maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring interests and ideas that’s at the core of a makerspace.  Cardboard, legos and art supplies can launch a hands-on, education, maker experience right at your own kitchen table!

Though Canadians might not have jumped aboard as fast as our American and European counterparts, over the past several years we Canadians have jumped in with full force and are joining the Maker Movement at a breakneck pace.

As a result, Canadian makerspaces – open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs – have been sprouting up across the country at great speed.

Like our MIDAS Fab Lab, makerspaces are often community-based organizations providing a wealth of shared tools and equipment for their members as well as the expertise and training to master them.  Makerspaces can provide the necessary experience and training to help to prepare someone in need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence.

Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and are being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups.  They can also serve as co-working spaces and collaborative playgrounds where ideas, innovations, and productive and, in some cases, profitable connections abound.

Currently, there are at least 37 public (non-commercial and non-academic) makerspaces – the list continues to grow! – throughout Canada.  In addition to MIDAS, check out the list of makerspaces across Canada:

Aberta:

Calgary – Protospace – http://protospace.ca

Edmonton – ENTS – https://ents.ca/

British Columbia:

Kamloops – Kamloops Makerspace – http://kamloopsmakerspace.com/

Langley – Makercube – https://www.makercube.ca

Nanaimo – Makerspace Nanaimo – https://makerspacenanaimo.org/

New Denver – Open to Source – http://opentosource.org/

Vancouver – Vancouver Hack Space – http://vanhack.ca

Vancouver – Vancouver Community Laboratory – http://vancommunitylab.com

Victoria – Victoria Makerspace – https://makerspace.ca/

Manitoba:

Winnipeg – SkullSpace – https://skullspace.ca

Nova Scotia:

Bedford – Halifax Makerspace – https://halifaxmakerspace.org/

Newfoundland:

St. Johns – Protoshed – https://protoshed.ca

Ontario:

Guelph – Diyode – https://www.diyode.com 

Kitchener – Kwartzlab – https://www.kwartzlab.ca/

Kitchener – Underground Studio Makerspace 

Richmond Hill – Ylab – https://www.ylab.ca

Toronto – Hacklab.TO – https://hacklab.to

Toronto – Site 3 coLaboratory – http://www.site3.ca

Toronto – Steamlabs – http://steamlabs.ca/

Windsor – Hackforge – https://hackf.org

Quebec:

Montreal – Helios Makerspace – http://www.heliosmakerspace.ca

Montreal – Foulab – https://foulab.org

Saskatchewan:

Saskatoon – Sktechworks – http://sktechworks.ca/

Saskatoon Makerspace – https://saskatoonmakerspace.com

If you are interested in making things; have an idea you’d like to see to fruition; have an invention you’d like to prototype; but don’t know where to start, now is the perfect time to find out more information about MIDAS!

Happy Canada Day, all, and Happy Making!  Have a great, safe weekend!  #LearnCreateLaunch #madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

 

 

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Membership at MIDAS: What It Can Do For You!

#madeatMIDAS Corporate membership

We at MIDAS are so proud of our Corporate Services.  Membership to the MIDAS Fabrication Lab opens up so many opportunities to expand, develop and grow your business and, ultimately, help you fulfill your innovation or entrepreneurial dreams.

Membership:  beat the competition through rapid prototyping at MIDAS

MIDAS specializes in fast-iteration, short-run and rapid prototyping.  Our membership services are open to regional companies, including start-ups, with a focus on supporting prototype and product commercialization.

Our facility is unique to the entire region, providing members with the best in state-of-the-art modern technology tools – almost half a million dollars in superior digital fabrication equipment and industry leading expertise to help bring your idea or innovation to life!

3D printing technology, CNC milling, vinyl cutting and more!  In addition to the equipment, MIDAS offers the necessary training, providing makers, companies, entrepreneurs and employees with advanced skills to turn business dreams to reality while defining our region as experts in advanced materials/metals and digital fabrication.  With a membership at MIDAS you can get the customized training you need to help you and your business get ahead, embracing new technology and maximizing your business’ potential through the variety of tools and equipment available.  Prototype development can be had at any stage, allowing you to get your product to market faster, hands-on, locally right here in your own backyard.

From engineers to aspiring, innovative entrepreneurs MIDAS customizes the experience to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need to develop your product or service.  Have an idea?  Join the MIDAS corporate membership to help get it out the door!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake #metaltechalley

 

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Fun Friday: DIY 3D Printed Fidget Spinner

DIY 3D printed fidget spinner

Despite being on trend for the past several years, Fidget Spinners are everywhere!  This little gadget of mindless distraction is likely the single most 3D printed item, and very simple in design, so it’s understandable why makers, young and old, are eager to design their own version.

This is a great 3D printing project because it will provide you all there is to know about the mechanics of fidget spinners and how to create your 3D printable file.

DIY 3D printed Fidget Spinner

The Fidget Spinner is a simple project that uses three 3D-printed parts and a bearing from McMaster-Carr. Learn how to use the McMaster-Carr part browser, basic 3D modeling, and how to make mechanical joints.

Modelling demo and files:  If you’re unfamiliar with Fusion 360, here’s a handy 3D Printing Class to get crash course in using the program.  The application is free to students and hobbyists, so there’s plenty to be had for educational support as you get to know it.

This is a fun and pretty easy project, and if you follow the complete instructions, which includes instructional webinars and video, totally do-able for the beginner maker.

3D design and printing truly allows just about anyone access to fabrication and prototyping with relative ease.  If you’re interested in learning the basics in design, 3D printing and fabrication, be sure to check out all of the cool courses we have on offer.

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Fun Friday! Easy & Fun Beginner Maker Ed Projects

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projects

Maker Ed, or Maker Education, is a new school of educational thought that focuses on delivering constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instruction to students. As the Maker Movement begins to make inroads into conventional education, maker education spaces are geared to facilitating hands-on learning experiences that incorporate both low and high tech, and can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom.

Maker Ed is particularly effective when leveraging the balance between exploration and execution. Small projects lend themselves to indefinite tinkering and fiddling, while larger projects need complex, coordinated planning. Often, small projects can organically grow into larger and larger projects. This deliberate process strengthens and enriches a learner’s executive functioning skills.

Effective Maker Ed isn’t just about the tools and technology.  Communication and collaboration are two of Maker Ed’s fundamental values. Making allows learners to practice their social communication skills in a variety of ways:  Affinity-based, where students organize themselves in real world and/or Internet (or virtual) to learn something connected to a shared endeavor, interest, or passion; role-specific, where the learning is customized dependent upon the specific tasks and function of the project and the training is presented in the context of a specific role ands what it takes to perform that role; or, teacher-assigned, where the educator facilitates more directly assigning each student to a particular task in the project.  It’s important for all different groups to be present in student learning spaces so that all students can practice their social skills in multiple settings.

Additionally, making offers unique opportunities to generate flow learning, an optimal psychological state that students experience when engaged in an activity that is appropriately challenging to their individual skill levels while encouraging immersion and concentrated focus on a task. Flow learning allows for deeper learning experiences as well as higher levels of personal and work satisfaction where the teacher is better able to leverage high-interest projects and activities and turn them into learning objectives within a curriculum.

Ultimately, we are talking about collaboration and learning through doing.  Maker education provides the space for real-life collaboration, integration across multiple disciplines, and iteration—the opportunity to fail, rework a project and find success.

We at MIDAS are fully committed to supporting the efforts of educators and makers looking to promote a cooperative learning environment where collaboration and education work hand-in-hand encouraging innovation in the most fun and organic ways possible.

New to the Maker Culture and education?  Here are a few fun and easy suggestions to get things going with the young – or old – aspiring makers in your life:

Smaller Scale Maker Ed Projects

Do you want to get into Making and Maker Ed but don’t know where to start? No problem! Here are nine class-tested, teacher-approved ideas, which can be built using a few tools for K–8 students.

tower of power beginner maker projectTowers of Power

Materials:  Paper, Scotch tape.

Tools: Scissors.

A great starting point for a beginning Maker teacher, this “Towers of Power” activity allows students to build towers out of paper and Scotch tape.

Students can build the tallest tower with an unlimited amount of materials, constrain themselves to limited materials or introduce new materials, such as straws and paper clips.

Once it’s complete, have fun crushing the tower with textbooks! Find out which tower holds up the most weight.

This group activity can help students with teamwork, leadership and planning skills. Best of all, variations on this theme are endless — and the materials can be found in any home or office.

simple catapult beginner maker projectCatapults

Materials:  Mouse traps, wood stirring sticks, erasers, wood blocks, ping-pong balls. hot glue.

Tools: a hot glue gun.

 

Introducing elements of STEM, this catapult activity is a favourite project to introduce engineering principles, motion and fun. The catapult allows students to chase down the best launching angle and the ratio between power and arm length, as well as discuss projectile motion, gravity, physics laws and a whole host of other things.

Plus, every student likes trying to smash something apart with a teacher’s permission.

Little hands might pinch themselves handling the strong lever, so it’s good practice to disengage the spring for students while they make their catapults.

Design Challenge Projects

Terrific exercises in STEAM!  And a great way to get into making is to give you and your students a few hours to explore the Making design process. Design challenges are a great way to get this done.

Set a hard time limit, test the devices, take time to evaluate and reflect.

Bridge to Nowhere beginner maker projectBridge to Nowhere

Materials:  Wood craft sticks, hot glue, 5-gallon bucket with weights.

Tools:  Hot glue gun,  diagonal cutters.

Design a bridge to span a foot-long gap and hold as much weight as possible.

An extension could be to build a cantilever — a bridge with only one footing.

Use a set amount of craft sticks or materials in order to encourage creativity in solutions.

Float the Boat

 beginner maker projectFloat the Boat

Materials:  Tinfoil, craft sticks, bamboo skewers, paper, hot glue, clay, wood scraps, pens and markers.

Tools:  Scissors, hot glue guns, craft sticks.

Design a boat that can hold the most cargo, move through the water the fastest, or has the most efficient weight to cargo ratio.

Find the best shape for sails, design the fastest hull and find the balance point.

Egg Drop beginner maker STEM projectEgg Drop

Materials:  Cardboard boxes, packing tape, junk and stuff (the weirder, the better). Think packing materials, fabric scraps, string, rope, plastic bags, etc.

Tools:  Scissors.

Some serious STEM fun!

Throwing eggs off something high always gets kids motivated.

It’s a great way to discuss momentum and illustrate why you should always wear your seat belt!

Beginner Maker projects DIY musical instrumentsInstruments


Materials:  Wood scraps, strings, dried rice, beans, sandpaper, cardboard, cardboard boxes, paper rolls, hot glue, tape, small sections of pipe, etc.

Tools:  Hot glue gun, scissors, hole punch, awl.

If a teacher offers a student the opportunity to make something joyfully noisy, they usually take it.

Homemade, DIY, maker instruments come in all different sizes and types — from wood drums to coffee can shakers, to wind chimes to xylophones, it just takes a bit of a Google search to find great ideas.

Electricity

Once you—parent, teacher, facilitator —get your “legs” for developing and encouraging Maker projects, why not expand your skills?

By now you’ve seen what you and what your kids can do. You’ve probably worked out how to efficiently manage the classroom and supplies, and document learning. Kick it up a level consider some more advanced projects incorporating electricity.

Electromagnetic beginner maker STEM projectElectromagnets



Materials:  Metal bolts, nails, copper wire, batteries.Tools:  Pliers, scissors or wire snips.

Electromagnets illustrate the connection between electricity and magnetism.

In real life, electromagnets are the cornerstone of many common electrical devices, such as door bells, burglar alarms, car doors and electric motors. Students can fiddle with them to create small toys that can pick up ferrous objects.

Squishy Circuits DIY beginner maker projectsSquishy Circuits

Materials:  Battery holder – 4XAA Batteries w/ Switch, (4) AA Batteries, LED – 5mm or 10mm Jumbo, Conductive Dough, Insulating Dough.

Tools:  Hot plate, or stove, and pots, wire snips or scissors.

Squishy circuits are a fun way to learn and explore the basics of electricity and electrical circuits and they solve one of the biggest conundrums with younger Makers: how to build with real electronic components when the young hands have yet to develop the fine motor skills to connect relatively small parts together via grown up tools?

Play dough! Take a piece of flour and a small collection of electronic parts (which you can find online at a low cost.)

You can get all the deets for this project HERE.

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projectsArduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey Controller Boards

Materials:

Anything you can get your hands on:   Tinfoil, wires

Tools:  Pliers, scissors, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey

Once the students have made a few electronic circuits, they might ask for something a bit more complicated.

Give them a programmable microcontroller board, which they can use to play a banana piano, design a custom video game controller or create a dance floor that can play different songs with each tile.

Check out these great microcontroller projects HERE!

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3D Printed Tools: Durable, Functional, Economical & Strong!

3D printed tools at MIDAS Fab Lab

If you’ve picked up your toolbox recently, chances are it was quite an effort.  Overflowing with conventionally manufactured chromium-vanadium alloy items such as wrench sets, your collection of screwdrivers and a seemingly endless selection of socket components, it’s no surprise it weighs a ton!  With the advent of, and increasing ease of access to, 3D printing, now you can save your shoulder – suprisingly strong and durable 3D printed tools can easily replace their steel counterparts.

3D printed tools can be made as you need them

Metal alloys are inarguably very strong, but for many jobs, there’s really only so much an item needs to withstand. Your choice of tool depends significantly on the pressure required and the structure of the design relative to the demands of the task.  And while every material has a limit, the rise of 3D printing for any manner of application, is challenging these limits through effective design.

3D printed tools made at MIDAS Fab Lab

3D printed tools #madeatMIDAS on the fly in the MIDAS booth at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit

3D printed tools are cheap, easy to customize, easily replaceable, and non-conductive. A simple search will bring up most common tools, all of which can be resized with a 3D modeling program to fit your needs.

3D printing creates parts by building up objects one layer at a time.  Infill, print speed, layer thickness, shape and widths all affect the lifespan and grade of wear resistance.

Keep in mind, the materials used aren’t simply the plastic filament you may associate with 3D printing.  The Markforged printers, which we have in the MIDAS Fab Lab, offer a single-step process that produces parts and tools with a custom plastic-carbon fibre composite, capable of making parts that are 20 times stronger and 10 times stiffer than standard ABS plastic.

The company claims that its 3D material can replace machined aluminum in industrial applications. The key is Markforged thermoplastic fiber filament, which incorporates a “strand of continuous fiberglass” into the carbon fiber for added strength.

Given the increasing ease with which industrial grade tools can be made, NASA has been making headlines with their own 3D printing projects. Robert Hillan’s multipurpose precision maintenance tool contains a variety of wrenches, wire gauge, and stripper, as well as a way to utilize drill bits.  Part of the “on demand” focus of the testing, NASA also successfully 3D printed a working ratchet wrench.

As NASA understands and proves with each production, one of the main advantages of additive manufacture is the speed at which parts can be produced compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Complex designs can be uploaded from a CAD model and printed in a few hours. The advantage of this is the rapid verification and ongoing,  iterative development of design ideas.

Printing a tool or part with a printer such as that of Markforged can be 50 times faster than carving it out of aluminum and 20 times cheaper as there’s no wasted material. For example, a small bike valve wrench takes about 10 minutes to print.

Wrench made in space by NASA

One of the biggest concerns for a product designer is how to manufacture a part as efficiently as possible. Most parts require a large number of manufacturing steps to be produce by traditional technologies. The order these steps occur affects the quality and manufacturability of the design.

Consider a custom steel bracket that is made via traditional manufacturing methods:

As with additive manufacturing, the process begins with a CAD model. Once the design is finalized, fabrication begins with first cutting the steel profiles to size. The profiles are then clamped into position and welded one at a time to form the bracket. Sometimes a custom jig will need to be made up to ensure all components are correctly aligned. The welds are then polished to give a good surface finish. Next holes are drilled so the bracket can be mounted on the wall. Finally, the bracket is sandblasted, primed and painted to improve its appearance.

Conversely, additive manufacturing machines complete a build in one step, with no interaction from the machine operator during the build phase. As soon as the CAD design is finalized, it can be uploaded to the machine and printed in one step in only a couple of hours.

The ability to produce a part in one step greatly reduces the dependence on different manufacturing processes (machining, welding, painting) and gives the designer greater control over the final product.

The advantages to 3D printing anything, including tools, are making their way into the public consciousness, particularly as access becomes more readily available.  Fabrication labs like ours at MIDAS, where the equipment and training are made available to both corporate and public users, increase the ease with which tools, parts or just about anything else can be easily prototyped and produced for a fraction of the cost of conventional means.

If you’re interested in learning more about the possibilities here at MIDAS, please contact us.  If you’d like to see the valuable training we have available to take advantage of our state-of-the-art facilities, check out our course calendar.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake #metaltechalley

 

 

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Fun Friday: 20 Day Giveaway – KAST’s 20th Anniversary Contest!

KAST 20th Anniversary giveaway

In honour of 20th Anniversary of the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST), they, along with the team here at MIDAS thought, what better way to celebrate than to give away some great innovative stuff!

To help KAST celebrate and to enter the giveaway, we ask that you simply like the KAST Facebook page and enter your email (daily!) for the chance to win some great swag.   The perfect opportunity for anyone interested in trying the facilities here at the MIDAS Fab Lab because on the block is a great grand prize pack, which includes a 1 month membership at MIDAS, along with 2 FREE MIDAS courses of your choosing.

There’s other great stuff, too, and all the prizes are completely transferrable so be sure to consider the creative innovator or maker in your family, home, or office and make it happen!

The contest opens today and runs for 20 days, don’t delay!

So, help to celebrate 20 years supporting science, tech, business, startups and all things innovation in the Koots and be sure to visit KAST on Facebook, like us, leave your info each day until mid-June, and increase your chances to win!

Thanks to all and good luck!  Click HERE to enter!

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Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments to spark economic growth, job creation

Premier announces tech & innovation investments to spark economic growth &  job creation

Great news came out of last week’s #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver with the announcement of significant tech and innovation investment by Premier John Horgan.  Understanding the importance of technology to the economy of British Columbia, and to help spark B.C. innovation, economic growth and new jobs throughout the province, the provincial government is putting money towards tech-based research and advanced training opportunities.

“B.C. succeeds when British Columbians succeed — and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

Over $102.6 million will be earmarked for 75 post-secondary research projects in B.C., through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop B.C.’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced supercomputing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, the B.C. government will invest $12 million in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years. The funding will support priority areas such as science, tech, engineering and mathematics programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To further develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

“B.C.’s success comes from the ideas, innovation and inspiration of people who call this province home,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “From a two-person startup, to large established tech firms and traditional resource industries, innovation can deliver a wealth of benefits to people, companies and our provincial economy. It is about creating good jobs for people in every corner of the province.”

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to B.C., government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot. That means priority processing for people in tech occupations, such as biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers.

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of B.C.’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The B.C. government will unveil a provincewide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make B.C. a great place to live and work.

The Province of British Columbia is hosting the third-annual #BCTECH Summit on May 14-16, 2018, in partnership with Innovate BC, the Province’s Crown agency. Innovate BC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of B.C. industry.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, “As part of our tech-expansion, we’re adding 2,900 more tech spaces, launching a graduate student scholarship fund and providing awards for women pursuing a science or tech-based profession. We’re breaking down barriers to good-paying jobs for people in the booming tech sector by making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.”

Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, “Having access to reliable, high-speed internet is the foundation for the growing digital economy, and essential for the expansion of technology and innovation in every corner of our province. It is important that this growing sector be fostered everywhere in B.C. That is why we are investing in connectivity for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, because we believe that everyone — no matter where they live — should have the tools they need to be part of this important industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy, supporting over 106,000 good-paying jobs. It is home to more than 10,200 businesses.
  • Over 83,400 tech-related jobs openings are expected by 2027 — jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, information system analysts and software designers.
  • In January 2018, the B.C. government announced 2,900 tech-related spaces that will produce 1,000 additional tech-grads a year by 2023, to improve access to training and education. This includes the first full civil and environmental engineering program in the North at the University of Northern British Columbia, and the first full software engineering program in the Interior at Thompson River University. To support these new spaces, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training plans to increase investment up to $42 million a year in ongoing funding.
  • In April 2018, the B.C. government partnered with the Government of Canada to provide B.C. biotechnology company STEMCELL Technologies with $45 million to create up to 2,170 B.C. jobs by 2031, and build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burnaby.
  • Also in April 2018, the Province, together with the federal government and the Alacrity Foundation, provided the Cleantech Scale-Up program with over $787,000 to help promising clean tech companies throughout B.C. get investment-ready and sell to new markets.
  • In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.

Fun Friday: MIDAS Fab Lab & SMRT1 Taking #BCTECH By Storm!

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

The MIDAS & SMRT1 Technologies teams had a tremendous time networking, connecting and promoting at the 2018 #BCTECH Summit this past week.  First off, a ton of fun was had sharing space, time and laughs with the rest of the Koots contingent, KAST, Metal Tech Alley, Austin Engineering, and Imagine Kootenay and seeing a whole bunch of familiar Koots faces over the course of two days.

This year’s was a biggie, record-breaking, in fact.   Bigger than ever, this year’s Summit hosted an estimated 9,000 participants for approximately a dozen conference-related events over three days.  A whopping 3,000 delegates connected with over 270 exhibitors and watched more than 200 speakers highlighting the transformations technology is driving across all industries in British Columbia and beyond.

“There is no better indication of the robust and dynamic state of B.C.’s tech industry than this event—which has touched a record number of people for a third straight year,” said Shirley Vickers, President & CEO of Innovate BC, which delivered the event in partnership with the Government of B.C. “The #BCTECH Summit is where industry meets innovation, and the significant involvement of technology leaders, investors, senior government officials, students, researchers and business executives in every industry shows an unquenched thirst for innovation and collaboration in this province.”

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director and tech-savvy-innovator-in-chief-teddy-bear-biker, Brad Pommen, was THE man!  With tremendous skill and his usual warmth, he inspired, excited and charmed just about everyone who stopped by the booth with his range of knowledge, his expertise and his unstoppable enthusiasm.

Innovation is clearly Brad’s passion and it exuded in every conversation he had.  Whether it was the MIDAS Fab Lab or the business that was borne from it, SMRT1 Technologies and the incredible Brain STEM Toolbox vending machine, he made the booth a highlight of the conference.

Tracy Connery Photography - #BCTECHSummit - MIDAS - SMRT1

MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen, addressing the #BCTECH Summit press

 

KAST Executive Director at the MIDAS booth #BCTECH Summit

KAST Executive Director, Don Freschi, playing with the Hololens and Selkirk College’s Jason Taylor, at the MIDAS booth at #BCTECH Summit 2018.

In addition to the MIDAS/SMRT1 fun, attendees enjoyed thought-provoking sessions, panels and keynotes by global thought leaders featured highly among many other conference highlights:

  • 150 investors that represent $225B in capital watched 45 of B.C.’s most promising startups pitch in the Investment Showcase.
  • Approximately 2,000 high school students participated in Youth Innovation Day to learn about the jobs of the future and a career in tech.
  • Over 220 B2B Meetings were matched between 38 technology buyers with 98 local technology solution providers.
  • Delegates from 16 countries and four continents complemented a strong international presence of companies including Title Sponsor Microsoft, Google Cloud, Lululemon, Amazon, Blue Origin, Lyft, Lockheed Martin, Sage, WeWork, LinkedIn, Salesforce, IBM and RBC.
  • Premier John Horgan announced tech and innovation investments including over $102.6 million in funding for 75 research projects in B.C. and $10.5 million for entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students.

If you weren’t able to attend, make sure you check out some videos from this year’s crop of speakers HERE.

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Exciting #BCTECH Summit Launch: SMRT1 Technologies Brain STEM Toolbox

This is definitely MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen’s week!  First, the announcement of his featured speaking gig and now the exciting unveiling of a project dear to his heart and one that has been much anticipated by Brad, his company, SMRT1 Technologies Ltd., and anyone who has had the privelege to witness the idea’s evolution over these many months.

Eight years ago, having initiated his first tech club, the Nelson Tech Club, Brad found himself in search of an effective way to provide the growing local maker community a way to not only find the tech products and equipment they needed but also how to use it.  In one efficient step.

While a huge ask, he looked to the traditional vending kiosk system for his answer.  The idea simmered, and the concepts were pondered and explored for the next six years.  It wasn’t until shortly into his tenure as Director of MIDAS that the idea started take physical form.  He purchased his first vending machine directly from the factory and began the long and iterative journey of prototyping.

At the same time, his new business, SMRT1, also began taking shape.  His entrepreneurial journey was assisted when he registered with the BC Venture Accelerator Program under the expert guidance of entrepreneur-in-residence and current Executive Director of KAST, Don Freschi.

From basic vending machine to state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, SMRT1 Technologies is taking a pretty brilliant stab at revolutionizing what is a very conventional industry.  Vending machines have been slow to change and the Brain STEM Toolbox technology gives brand new life to the traditional vending machine with incredible touchscreen capabilities that go well beyond simply choosing your desired item off a rack behind glass.

MadeAtMIDAS SMRT1 BrainSTEM vending machine.

A very early iteration of what is now the clean and efficient touchscreen technology in the final version of the SMRT1 Brain STEM vending machine.

Education is a huge driver behind the Brain STEM Toolbox.  It isn’t simply about the purchase.  Rather, SMRT1 Technologies  has created a learning system designed to be easy and fun.  The touchscreen allows for full specs, details and the ability to rotate and zoom on the image of the product to allow for a far more educated purchase.

SMRT1 has been enthusiastically received by local education institutions.  There are currently six Brain STEM Toolboxes set to roll out to BC schools in September.  Teachers who are already using the learning modules and projects are excited to have in-school access.

The Brain STEM Toolbox takes the vending machine as we have always known it to a whole new level: this is an interactive and educational shopping experience.  It’s perfect for schools, technology retail, or any other pop-up retail location. Payments are easy and secure with cash, bank card or digital wallets.

“Snack vending machines are retro-fitted with our custom hardware which uses machine learning to interact with the student to help them choose the right project.  It also allows cash, credit or a digital wallet to pay for the project which is then dispensed.  It was the best way I could think of to get the projects that pair with the online learning modules close to the students and the teachers,” said Brad Pommen CEO of SMRT1 Technologies.

“The Brain STEM Toolbox can shape-shift to have application to a wide variety of micro-niche retail sectors.”

SMRT1 BrainSTEM Toolbox #BCTECH Summit launch

SMRT1 Technologies bridges the physical shopping experience with that of e-commerce. Not only does this technology revolutionize what is possible through a vending machine, it’s a completely custom experience available for less than $10,000!

This high-tech touchscreen tech vending machine will be on display at the MIDAS Fab Lab booth at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver next week, May 14-16,

If you want more information on the Brain STEM and SMRT1, do visit: www.smrt1.ca.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

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Community Futures CED Featured Speaker: MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen

The 2018 Community Futures Community Economic Development Forum has a special treat for anyone familiar with all that is, and can be, achieved here at MIDAS.

MIDAS Lab Director, our own Brad Pommen, is set to speak at the event in Cranbrook May 23rd & 24th,, sharing his experience and expertise around the topic,  “The Sharing Economy: Innovation & Collaboration”.

In attendance at the forum will be local government officials, staff, economic development officers, planners, and others working in economic development roles.

As the Director of MIDAS, Brad knows innovation and collaboration, so this event is the perfect venue to share what he knows.  His expansive list of initiatives pertaining to education, innovation, and economic development is certainly impressive.  He is a technology network liaison throughout the Kootenays, providing professional representation, influence in technology adoption and education leadership through initiatives such as Ladies Learning Code, Nelson Tech & Knowledge Workers and Startup Nelson. He is also the brains and brawn behind the annual Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames.  Additionally, he helps lead the initiatives of Nelson’s Intelligent Community and Innovation Center planning.

MIDAS Lab Director Brad Pommen #madeatMIDAS

MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen showing off first iteration of 3D printed canine cast & recipient, Shawncy with his owner Karen Fontaine.

Facilitating the event is Ange Qualizza, an economist and City Councillor serving the City of Fernie.  Her background includes representing groups to create destination tourism infrastructure, community economic development, working with government agencies, municipal government and not-for-profit boards.   She also serves a local government association, the Association of the Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments where the mandate is to ‘assist our members in providing effective, responsible and accountable local government through dialogue, education and advocacy’.

In addition to Brad and the roster of impressive contributors, this year’s CED forum will include ‘a pop up trade show and an elegant evening of collaboration and experiential learning’.

For more information and the itinerary of events, please click HERE.

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