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Peduto Hosts Roundtable On Maker Movement

President Barack Obama wants some advice from Pittsburgh’s “maker” community.

That’s why Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a roundtable Monday afternoon to discuss the achievements and future of the city's “Maker Movement,” which refers to using tools such as 3D printers and computer-aided designs to build everything from circuitry to jewelry.

“Making has been described as a creative process at the intersections of physical and digital and at the crossroads and fringes of disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, art and math,” said Lisa Brahms, director of learning and research at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Peduto is one of about a dozen mayors throughout the country who have been invited to the White House on June 18. He said the president wants to know what Pittsburgh is doing with the Maker Movement and how the White House can help move it even further.

At the roundtable, speakers from various organizations contributing to the movement were asked how they thought Pittsburgh has contributed to the Maker Movement.

Corey Wittig, program manager for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh “The Labs” program, said Pittsburgh’s maker community is doing a good job of providing access to tools such as 3D printers.  

“And that goes from working with the smallest kids up through teenagers, and making sure there’s kind of a steady trajectory to higher education,” he said.

When asked how Pittsburgh can work to become even more accessible, Rachel Saul, studio program coordinator for the Society for Contemporary Craft said the maker community needs to make sure that it is reaching every age group.

“It seems in my experience that a lot of it has been geared towards younger children and then up until middle school, and then we have a lot of programming for adults whether it’s at Contemporary Craft, the TechShop, HackPittsburgh, a lot of these places” Saul said. “So it’s almost like we’re missing this grouping of kids between maybe seventh grade to graduation.”

Wittig said he wants to see a stronger link between what he called the formal and informal education worlds — or public schools and after-school programs in the community.

“Teens at Pittsburgh Cytec in Oakland come down to the library afterward, and they are on their robotics team and they have a space in the library afterward that they can continue that way,” Wittig said. “That’s a great school geared toward that idea, but not all schools are going to be like that.” `

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.