ELYRIA — Lorain County is maker country, and students on Elyria’s robotics teams are lucky to live here, according to Sherry Huss.
Huss, co-creator of the World Maker Faire, spoke to Elyria robotics team members at their awards banquet in the high school’s performing arts center Wednesday evening. The banquet commemorated the district’s seven middle school and six high school teams’ performance during this year’s VEX robotics season — including several qualifying for and winning awards at the state and world competitions.
“I can’t think of any other place, even in the country, where making is just kind of in our DNA,” Huss said. “Driving here I was telling my cousin I saw Duck Tape and Bendix and Ridge Tool, these are all kind of the tools and part of making and so that’s pretty cool and you guys are lucky to be living here.”
A 1976 Elyria High School graduate, Huss said she was surprised to return to the district 43 years later and see its Makerspace, spending the school day with students at Westwood Middle School and Elyria High School.
After graduating EHS, Huss attended the University of Akron and later graduated from Ohio State University, studying marketing and business management. Moving west with her husband, she eventually began working as director of electronic publishing at Ziff-Davis Consumer Media Group, which published several computer-based magazines. Going on to organize well-attended conferences and events like JavaOne in 1996, she eventually left to help found the Maker Faire in conjunction with MAKE: magazine in 2005. More than 32,000 people attended the first event in the Bay Area of San Francisco.
The maker movement continued to grow, she said, with a shift to open-source programming and philosophies in 2009-10. In 2014 a Maker Faire was held at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Huss said ahead of returning to her alma mater to speak to its award-winning middle and high school robotics teams, she reached out to her network on Facebook to ask “What do you wish you knew when you were in high school?” The responses started pouring in, some of which she shared via a Young Maker Manifesto she created. The manifesto outlines 10 things the young creators need to keep in mind moving forward. She noted many of the jobs those middle and high schoolers will hold later on in life have not been created yet, while others like trade work, are always needed.
Her manifesto is: mix it up, do the math, put yourself out there, travel unknown paths, be present and active in your community, get hands on and work with as many tools as possible, be empathetic, fail forward and learn from it, iterate and trust your instincts.
“This is your journey and make sure and go and have fun with it,” she said. “Because why not, right? Life is short and that’s the way to go.”