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makeharvard 2019: bigger and better!

The 2nd annual MakeHarvard engineering makeathon was a huge success. It brought in over 370 top students from around the world to compete for prizes while building engineering prototypes. It was great to see such a diverse representation of different nations, cultures, and languages. The 2019 event was twice as big as last year, making everything seem bigger and better.

The maker movement is essentially a tech-influenced do-it-yourself community. It was informally created around 15 years ago around MAKE Magazine, a geeked-out periodical featuring lots of DIY articles for creations such as VCRs converted into cat feeders and 3D printers. Maker spaces and events have become more and more popular, inspiring startups and manufacturing innovation as well as clogging garages the world over with half-finished robots and potato cannons.

Sunstone Circuits was eager to return as a sponsor and creators of a competition category this year, also serving as both mentors and competition judges. If you were there, you saw us – we were hard to miss in our bright orange vests!

As mentors, we were out and about helping students and answering questions. The student projects had all kinds of design elements, from software on complex platforms and different programming languages to hardware engineering of all kinds. It really was amazing to see what these teams could do in a short amount of time. The myriad of skills on display ranged from concept design to advanced coding with real world platforms such as AWS. Some projects featured mobile apps and websites. We saw 3D real objects designed, printed, and integrated into projects with documentation that would make most corporate projects envious.

The students were full of questions and we were eager to help. Sometimes, there were questions we didn’t have complete answers for at the ready, but usually we were able to suggest a place to find the answer. All the students needed was a direction and they were all over finding the solution. Problem solved.

Sunstone sponsored Make It Matter, a competition focused on innovative prototypes that had significant social, personal, or environmental impact. Teams had 36 hours to come up with an idea and bring their creation from design to prototype.

Judging was tough – there were so many great ideas out there! We scrambled to deliver the judging rubric on time, a task made difficult by the number of amazing prototypes and teams that we really wanted to recognize. In the end, the first-place winner for Sunstone's competition was a robot pipe crawler designed by Team 42+2. Their prototype could crawl along pipes and detect cracks or other faults in the material.

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There were so many great submissions that at the last minute, we decided to award a 2nd place prize, as well. This prize went to Sam Roquitte and Maxwell Stigman from Georgia Tech, and their eL safety-enhancing adaptive lighting system for electric skateboards.

Here are some other great projects that really impressed me:

By the end of MakeHarvard 2019, the entire Sunstone team was exhausted but overjoyed by the success of the event. We saw so many great prototypes and met so many enthusiastic students. We also gave away all of our shwag – the Sunstone memory sticks, notebooks, and pens disappeared like smoke in a tornado!

This was just a great event. We are already busy discussing next year's MakeHarvard makeathon and how we can help make it better.


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