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DARPA + Makers + School = the Future of Innovation

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the broadening-the-base dept.

Education 70

PerlJedi writes "The future of innovation in America is the Maker movement. A new project being announced on the Makezine blog aims to bring low cost innovation and alternative manufacturing processes to schools in hopes of turbo-charging the next generation of inventors in the U.S. From the announcement: 'The new Makerspace program, developed by Dale Dougherty of MAKE 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 program has a goal of reaching 1000 high schools over four years, starting with a pilot program of 10 high schools in California during the 2012-2013 school year.'"

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Fixing the wrong problem. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762180)

It doesn't matter how well educated and motivated Americans are for making things. As long as there is cheap trade with countries with more sane intellectual property laws and/or poor labor regulations, the USA cannot compete.

It is not a knowledge problem, it is a legal one.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762358)

This is incorrect. You honestly think most people on slashdot are unemployed? They're mostly very well paid IT people and engineers with a dash of everything else. There is an extraordinary difference in the productivity of the average skilled American worker and the average unskilled Chinese worker.(unskilled Americans and skilled Chinese left out of the equation now). It is on the order of a hundred times as much. Pretending like a lack of technical skills is valueless is no way to address problems in an economy where unskilled and non-technically skilled people represent the vast majority of the unemployed. Your gloom-and-doom assertions have no basis in fact, and betray a bizarre Luddite attitude that seems contrary to the techy nature of slashdot.

It's just weird.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762644)

They're mostly very well paid IT people and engineers with a dash of everything else. There is an extraordinary difference in the productivity of the average skilled American worker and the average unskilled Chinese worker.

So you are saying that a good education is important?

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762656)

And how many folks end up with jobs in IT versus those that tried but got discouraged by the low pay early on and competition from H-1B visa holders that were imported to artificially depress wages?

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763010)

I work with numerous H1-B coworkers. They are good people, on the whole and not deserving of contempt from just being foreign. On top of that, I am well payed in spite of whatever depressing effect they have.

What you're forgetting is that when you hire H1-B, you're bringing talent and skill into the U.S. and increasing the health of the U.S. economy. Moreover, they're paying the same rent/food/electricity/transportation/tax costs every other person living in the U.S. is too. The real risk H1-B poses to the U.S. is not "taking our jobs" as the very low unemployment in those fields indicates, but rather that we send these workers home after their visa expires, and lose all the knowledge they brought with them and gained during their employment.

It only "artificially" depresses wages if you consider their existence artificial. Personally, I'd be happier with a clear path to citizenship for H1-B workers.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763270)

What about the talent that's already here? It made sense for us to snag Einstein, von Braun and all those amazing European minds before, during and after WWII because they were so exceptional. But, by bringing in people on H-1B visas to fill jobs that could be filled by ordinary IT workers all you're doing is creating a dependence on foreign laborers to get the work done. It's very much the same sort of thing as why food shipments to starving countries are only a stop gap measure. Long term you provide a disincentive to self sufficiency.

Yes, those folks aren't bad people, but what you're failing to take into account is the folks that gave up and retrained before the economy went in the gutter and the number of positions which don't exist any more as companies cut back.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38765104)

Goggle “US can’t find skilled labor” and read for a bit. We need these people to come over because we don’t graduate enough skilled labor to feed our growing economy. Also, from a corporation’s viewpoint, it starts to get upsetting that you have to hire someone with high school degree vs. someone far more qualified from overseas. If a foreigner worked harder in school and is vastly more qualified, why shouldn’t they get the job? Do we feel we are better than them? Do we deserve more because of our birth right? Or is competition good! Remember, every time you try to protect a group with anticompetitive practices you end up hurting the group as a whole. If you decided to help your states football athletes by dictating that the local professional football team can only use local football talent you might think you are helping the athletes in the short term. You won’t feel that way when the team goes bankrupt after a couple of seasons. We need to focus improving our workforce instead of putting up artificial barriers to level the playing field.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

kodiaktau (2351664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765192)

Let me fix that for you - Let's separate the two arguments here to keep this focused. The US took on minds from Europe before, during and after the war to deprive other countries the access to those minds. It was a political move and gave us access to their achievements. If the argument is that we bring on H1-B to deprive other countries access or because we have a lack of that knowledge then H1-B works, in part. It fails in that it doesn't require H1-B applicants to stick around permanently. The reality is that in general this visa status brings inexpensive labor to bear on the market and creates a revolving door of talent to the States. I too agree that people under H1-B status aren't bad. In my experience most folks are really nice and they are just trying to get ahead. Unfortunately they become pawns in an economic game. And in the end we train them, they go home and now compete even more heavily on wage in the market.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38766284)

But the whole point of the program is to send the scabs back. If they were permanent residents they would demand prevailing wages rather than working at 50% of the rate of an American (which will buy them a lot when they get back home).

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (2)

qzjul (944600) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763624)

Those of us discouraged from going into IT went into engineering instead.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765620)

You know how much it costs to file H1B, do you? I mean including lawyer fees and everything. You also understand that the personnel you train at your expense on your processes, is going to leave you as soon as 5 years from now, not because they dislike the company, but because their visa will expire without a remedy. It is stringently difficult to get a job on H1 status, because you end up costing more than a citizen, all in all factored in.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (2)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765950)

You cannot compete with slave labor.

The USAry is going to have to eventually make a decision:

1) Race to the bottom where you have super cheap crap being made, by people that make $10 an hour.

If you want to live and compete like FOXCONN employees, then thats great. We can put dorms and nets outside the buildings so people don't jump to their deaths in despair and misery working in such conditions.

Isn't that iGreat?!

2) Or Add to the equation, not just Free Markets, but Fair Trade. That means when you manufacture something, a tariff equalizes it so that Americans can go back to what they had with trade tariff's in the 1950's.

Personally, I feel the real issue is globalism. It is a broken idea, and as we are watching, Globalism makes it efficient to redistribute the profits by centralizing them in a few companies, and therefore a few hands.

Instead of many small manufacturing firms of lawn mowers for example, you have one or two, and the people on these boards and share holders get to take in all of the profit. The idea is of course, that this creates billion and trillionaires.

With a large diverse market, minus globalism you just get 1 or two billionaires, but a whole ton more millionaires.

Also, I would like to point out, this globalism is the main reason why countries are going broke. The entities that have been created by Globalism largely don't pay any taxes.

In short, just my opinion, everything has just got too big, and too unwielding. I am hopeful that people will come to their senses and dismantal globalism so we can return to lots of small voices in the farming industry for example. Not just 2 or 3 large industrial farming corporations.

Which, if you can't see the danger of _just_ one or two companies doing all the farming, well, I am wasting my time anyway.

But really. Globalism is just too big. It needs to be dismantled into manageable parts so that Democracy can digest the issues.

Globalism generates issues way to big for the differing cultures and democracies to handle.

Unless of course, you plan on creating a world government. For that too happen we need a gigantic war to destroy most of the West and everyone who thinks like I do.
(Well, a War, or maybe a nice virus or maybe just put something in the food and water...which since only a few companies are marking the majority of the food, would probably be fairly easy to do. If not now, it certainly gets easier by the day.)

I will leave that to you if you think that is happening.

-Hack

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (4, Interesting)

Eil (82413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763210)

There are so many things wrong with this comment that I don't know where to start. I'm 90% sure it's a troll, but I'll bite anyway:

The problem is that we live in a society where everyone expects success to be handed to them. In the U.S., the poorest of the poor have a standard of living that outshines the majority of the rest of the world. We're all taught to get straight A's through high school, get a four-year degree while amassing crushing amounts of debt, and then after that we'll be able to land a job with a six figure salary and join a union that will keep us from getting fired no matter how little work we actualy do. When that doesn't happen, we complain that the government isn't creating enough jobs for us and then sit back to enjoy nice free unemployment checks while waiting for an opportunity to fall in our lap. What. The. Fuck.

When (not if) China supercedes the U.S. as the new world superpower in the next decade or two, I sincerely hope my fellow Americans will get off their butts and realize that we need to *work* to maintain our standard of living and our place in the world. Even if it's unpleasant, even if it's not what we really want to do at the moment. Otherwise, I fear that I'm going to live to see the fall of the U.S. democracy. Given our history of foreign policy, I'm certain that the rest of the world will celebrate it much as we celebrated the fall of the Soviet Union.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38764362)

I don't think you will find a plurality of college graduates who expect either 100k or a union membership fresh from school. In fact, I'm constantly surprised by statistically significant poll-based findings describing students remarkably sober expectations. Your offensive insinuation that the goal of a union laborer is to slack off and retain their job is a shallow talking point assembled from a few carefully selected anecdotes by agenda-driven ideologues. There is no correlation between union membership and this behavior. furthermore, you seem to be fairly confused about the educational achievement that is typical in the US and among unions.

This Americans are lazy and don't work meme has no basis in reality. We have the most educated, productive, and technologically advanced workforce on earth. Period. Demographics suggest that the stature of our workforce may be decreasing relatively, but again, any argument of our deterioration based on relative decline is duplicitous and intellectually dishonest. In absolute terms we are still improving. I'm not sure whose kool aid you're drinking, but you should step outside and critically analyze your presented opinions/purported facts because they simply do not hold up to scrutiny and evidence supporting contrary positions is plentiful (perhaps overwhelming in some cases) if you bother to search. While you deride the american public for being lazy in the face of chinese competition, I'll deride baseless accusations from ideological blowhards who have been blindly brainwashed into (or strategically benefit from) accepting that 1) hard work is the epitome of virtue 2) hard work always pays off 3) Americans have a poor work ethic.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

kodiaktau (2351664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765382)

Bump. Someone sprinkle modpoints above.

The current philosophy that China will over take the US in technology improvements or economically is based on non-sense from the media and fear mongers. *gasp* The fact of the matter is that there is such disparity in the Chinese economy they will soon be feeling the sobering effects of the rash growth and self-valuing yuan [businessweek.com] .

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767448)

Parent really deserves modpoints.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764976)

I've got none of that yet. I've got no degree (yet), no training, and no certs (also no debt though, woo!) - largely because I can't really afford the $300 a pop. I'd just like to work in some sort of office environment, even something like data entry, but I can't seem to get hired for the life of me. The days of talking with the manager and him giving you a two-week trial are over. Now you have to pass personality tests and sit through 45 minutes of radio buttons just to have your application probably dumped by the automated system for falling below some arbitrary score.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38766990)

In the U.S., the poorest of the poor have a standard of living that outshines the majority of the rest of the world

Where on earth did you get that idea? Yes, the poor in first-world countries may be better off than the poor in third-world countries, but living in the streets/alleys/etc of New York isn't going to be much/any better than many other countries.

Re:Fixing the wrong problem. (1)

rocket rancher (447670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770840)

When (not if) China supercedes the U.S. as the new world superpower in the next decade or two, I sincerely hope my fellow Americans will get off their butts and realize that we need to *work* to maintain our standard of living and our place in the world. Even if it's unpleasant, even if it's not what we really want to do at the moment. Otherwise, I fear that I'm going to live to see the fall of the U.S. democracy. Given our history of foreign policy, I'm certain that the rest of the world will celebrate it much as we celebrated the fall of the Soviet Union.

You don't really think China is going to let that happen, do you? China's power brokers have been refining their techniques of control since the Qin unified China 2200 years ago. They are not going to abandon their current (successful) economic strategy against the US. You don't let a potential enemy redevelop an industrial base after you've spent several decades destroying it by flooding their their economy with inexpensive goods. Once they've killed off the industrial base, they will leverage all the American debt they've been quietly acquiring and kill off the rest of the American economy, and the riots in the streets will finish the job for them, and they never had to fire a shot. If you are an educated American, learn Mandarin, and make sure your kids learn it to.

TFS makes me think of 2 things: (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762190)

1. Cory Doctorow. It wasn't his best book, but wasn't too bad either, and did give one food for thought. Almost required reading for this topic; it's available at your local bookstore, or for free at BoingBoing.

2. What good is being an inventor when a patent is practically impossible for someone who isn't filthy rich to obtain and defend? The rich not only have priveleges you don't, they have rights you don't. Actually, this is one of the subthemes of the aformentioned book.

If I had the money to obtain a patent, I'd have several by now. The patent system is in serious need of reform.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762320)

Patents are one of the few things you can get without a huge cost. They are within the reach of individuals. Defending them in court, on the other hand, can cost millions - so once you have your shiny new patent, expect companies to ignore it. The best you might manage is to sell it to a company that does have the resources to enforce it.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762758)

Sadly, that is the best you could probably hope for. A more likely scenario is after you try to make a buck with your shiny new patent, you're going to be sued into oblivion and your only recourse will be to hand over your patent to the plaintiff in compensation.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763550)

Justice is blind. Whichever side puts the most gold on the scales of justice wins!

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#38792207)

They are within the reach of individuals

I'm right at the median income, and I couldn't afford to get one (and you're certainly right about not being able to defend one even if I could get one).

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763018)

1. Cory Doctorow. It wasn't his best book, but wasn't too bad either, and did give one food for thought. Almost required reading for this topic; it's available at your local bookstore, or for free at BoingBoing.

I loved some other books from Cory Doctorow, but I honestly thought this one was not worth the... oh well, it was free, so I cannot complain. But I would not really recommend it. I thought that the only thing interesting about the book was its setting - otherwise, it's just quite a boring story, with forgettable characters and a surprising (but not particularly enjoyable) lemon [urbandictionary.com] scene at the middle. The books starts up nicely, but really winds down afterwards, up to its end which is quite a grind. Of course, this is only my opinion - you are very well entitled to have another one.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#38792327)

Like I said, it certainly wasn't his best.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38763464)

Cory Doctorow. It wasn't his best book, but wasn't too bad either, and did give one food for thought. Almost required reading for this topic; it's available at your local bookstore, or for free at BoingBoing.

Which of his books are you talking about?

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765362)

That's Makers [craphound.com] .

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38763958)

Patent: That's not "maker". That's "small business".

You invent something and flog it. Someone copies you and markets better. You don't care because you've already moved on to the next thing.

People come to you because you do lots of little things well and take pride in them.

Caring that someone's "stolen you idea" is stupid unless you want to stop making things and become a manager.

You suffer an attitude problem that is almost universal. Here's another example: "Is it better to lock up a bad guy for 5 years at enormous cost when there's no proof that he won't reoffend afterwards; or is it better to "reward" the bad guy by sticking him in a nice environment and teaching him how to handle his demons and become a useful part of society at the same cost when there's huge evidence that he won't reoffend?"

The vast majority of the population want the pyrrhic victory of "punishing" the bad guy - even those that know that they're really only punishing themselves.

Re:TFS makes me think of 2 things: (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764298)

What good is being an inventor when a patent is practically impossible for someone who isn't filthy rich to obtain and defend? The rich not only have priveleges you don't, they have rights you don't. Actually, this is one of the subthemes of the aformentioned book.

Which is why the whole "open source" movement is a great equalizer. If you got an innovation but no money, publish the heck out of it, which makes it ineligible for patenting. (Well, in the US you get a year, but most places the act of publishing or making it public before the patent is applied for makes it ineligible).

Don't let it sit in some untraversed corner of the web, but make it known as far and wide as possible. If it's particularly cool, you can get others working on it as well and as they adapt it, get them to publish everything.

That's the whole "maker" movement - it's really a more publicized version of the DIY thing that people were doing. Just some created cool blocks that increase the ease at which to do stuff (Arduino, for example, makes it possible to add in a simple microcontroller to your project, which is something most projects require these days).

Of course, the other bit is to get people to publish - companies will pay for innovations to lock it up and patent it, so the flip side is to have it published far and wide and collaborate and share (which is why it's building in strength - everyone's wanting to share).

We first used CAD in middle school.. (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762264)

My middle school had a grant, either from DARPA itself or something similar from the local Army base, and used it to develop an elective for 8th graders called "Explorations in Technology." Students worked through labs as teams, and could pick which labs they wanted to work on. One of the coolest labs, and one that was filled before I could snag it, was the CAD lab with a laser cutter where the student could design their own pendant (either with their initials, or some other design) and then have it carved out of plastic with a laser. The Makerbot will fit right into such technology labs in schools lucky enough to have them.

Other labs we had included building a model rocket, learning a few LOGO commands and creating a picture, learning not to be afraid of the guts of a PC (this is a slot! and it can hold add-in cards!), flying a space shuttle simulator, etc. This was 1994 - the labs today can probably include a lot more advanced things. This technology class replaced our shop class, though, so we lost the chance to learn to use buzz saws safely.

Re:We first used CAD in middle school.. (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765018)

I seriously envy your neighborhood. I see too many places where the model rockets would be dismissed as "weapons" and/or "too dangerous". Don't even get me started on the laser or things like chemistry labs. Computer programming? You're teaching them to hax my AOLZ!

No wonder why education in this country is in the shitter. -.-

Re:We first used CAD in middle school.. (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765222)

Surprisingly, this was in Augusta GA, not exactly a hotbed of liberal education activism. But the school was where Fort Gordon shipped its students, so it was full of Army brats who were children of the Signal Corps. It's only now that I've begun to realize that my experience was definitely outside of the norm (I went to computer camp and there was always access to a computer someplace from about the time I was seven, even if it was just a crummy Apple IIe in the National Science Center's labatory.)

Look everyone, i'm a shill! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762266)

insert links to dumb nerd-fag discussions. get a fucking life, retards.

Re:Look everyone, i'm a shill! (0)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762362)

insert links to dumb nerd-fag discussions. get a fucking life, retards.

LOL! Does that post seem in any way ironic to you?
No? I thought not.

So what does this mean? (1)

apcullen (2504324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762278)

The two articles linked have a lot of verbiage without REALLY explaining what MAKE / the maker movement is. It seems to be some kind of digital design? Is this manufacturing using 3d printers or something? Can anybody enlighten the rest of us?

Re:So what does this mean? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762390)

Yes. Makerbots are 3D printers small enough for personal use, using CAD software and appropriate drivers.

Re:So what does this mean? (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#38763242)

"Makers" are apparently people who have built 3D printers and think that this is the be-all and end-all of manufacturing technology.

Sure, the fact that you can build one for $100 now is pretty neat. However, CAD/CAM was in vogue back when I was in high school. It indeed has changed the world, but not because anytime somebody wants a widget they take 3 hours to have some laser mill carve it out of steel.

3D printers, and CAM in general are great for prototyping, but they're not going to make a dent in the cost of finished goods. Right now maker bots can only make 99 cent plastic toys - which some guy in China can already make for two cents, and which probably costs $1.50 in materials to make using a 3D printer. If you want to make new gears for your bike then you're going to need something capable of cutting through hard steel, and that isn't going to be $50 and made out of plastic. About the only thing you'd save making such things yourself is any patent rights for the design, and those aren't much compared to manufacturing costs.

About the only thing manufacture-at-home is likely to be cost-effective at is counterfeiting currency - since its value is almost entirely fiat. I saw a neat documentary about some guy who was doing just that with casino chips. The neat thing about it was that when they finally traced him they couldn't arrest him since he lived in a state that didn't have legalized gambling and forging casino chips was consequently not considered a crime. He wasn't using 3d printers though - this was serious die-pressing equipment/etc.

Re:So what does this mean? (3, Informative)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764296)

3D printers, and CAM in general are great for prototyping, but they're not going to make a dent in the cost of finished goods.

I beg to differ. While it is true that 3D printing cannot hold a candle to the efficiency of bulk injection molding, it is already bringing down the prices of other types of products. For example, I am involved with the design of a robotic mechanism that had lots of tiny, hard-to-machine parts and needed lots of assembly time. With 3D printing, we could basically print half the parts pre-assembled in shapes that would be physically impossible to either machine or mold (blind holes, internal cavities, crazy angles and contours, etc). The resulting drop in machine and assembly time cut the cost by a factor of ten, even when produced in quantity. Plus, since we don't have to order parts in batches, we can afford to offer them at a lower price while order volume is low.

3D printers are also revolutionizing the replacement-part industry for cars, aircraft, and antiques. High-quality, high-strength parts can be made by printing steel or titanium, and also by coating plastic parts with metal. True, they won't replace your bike sprocket or drive shaft, but they can do a lot more than 99 cent plastic toys.

Re:So what does this mean? (1)

Brietech (668850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764636)

I feel like this argument kind of misses the point. First, 3D printers (of the makerbot variety, as well as more traditional/expensive machines) have both come down drastically in price and improved drastically in quality in the last few years. The same goes for CNC milling equipment (and computing, and printing, etc.). No, they aren't appropriate for making a million widgets to be sold at 2 cents/piece, but they're perfectly appropriate for teaching people how to design things.

A huge segment of the population (often with a lot of knowledge in very specific areas) doesn't know what is possible with tools like this. Setting up an environment for kids to play with where making things (rather than just buying them from a black-box company) is easy can significantly change their world view and make them way more creative/productive/etc. Things like 3D printers are cheap enough that you could have one for almost every kid in a class, and that makes the cost of failure incredibly low. Same with learning to program on cheap computers (and build electronics with cheap microcontrollers like the arduino ecosystem). I feel like that ability to de-mystify the world and teach kids to create something will probably prove extremely valuable to them. /end ramble

Re:So what does this mean? (2)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764750)

> 3D printers, and CAM in general are great for prototyping, but they're
> not going to make a dent in the cost of finished goods. Right now maker
> bots can only make 99 cent plastic toys - which some guy in China can
> already make for two cents, and which probably costs $1.50 in materials
> to make using a 3D printer.

I care about not wasting things. I can't wait until the day comes that it's affordable for me to make little plastic doodads to replace broken bits of plastic in toys and devices. I'd rather spend $1 to fix a $1 toy with a tiny part than spend $1 to buy a replacement and throw the broken one away. There's a whole world of things that are made from plastic that can be fixed with plastic that don't require the strength of a bike sprocket.

You know the first thing I'd make if it were feasible? You know the little plastic battery covers on the backs of remotes? I could use about 5 of those right now. A plastic with the strength of the polystyrene used in model cars and planes would suffice.

Re:So what does this mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38765032)

You have to start somewhere. Widely deployed cheap ABS printers, the software to run them, and 10,000 tinkerers constantly seeking improvements and sharing designs seems to be about the best springboard I can imagine for reducing barriers to manufacturing. Add in a $500 laser and you can do additive manufacturing with tool steel, titanium, aluminum, ceramics, etc. No cutting needed and sufficient precision and material properties for the majority of manufactured goods, e.g. tools, auto parts, bicycle parts, flatware, toys, jigs, fasteners, out-of-production components (e.g. antiques, SAAB parts), etc, etc etc. It doesn't have to be about the economics, its about eliminating the need for massive amounts of infrastructure, middle men, and vast economies. You're terribly off on the economics as well. Their the same as manufacturing at any scale, except with slightly different slopes. People aren't using their plastic printers for economic gain, but its fairly evident that they scale even better than the infrastructure they replace. The price approaches the cost of materials and opex, which quite frankly will probably be lower than industrial equivalents for a variety of reasons (google) Mainly, this stuff this only reduces barrier to entry, which is a good thing unless you are the type of slimeball (don't worry most people are) that likes the control of the dark ages. Don't worry, while the rest of us evolve, I'm sure there will always be the wallmart special for the likes of you. Good luck with that relationship!

COROLLARY: x1 + ae + mx = PROFIT !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762280)

x1 = ?
ae = ?
mx = (don't care)

PROFIT !! IS !! PROVEN !!

Indoctrinate the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762310)

So the future of innovation in America is training kids in order so that they can later invent weapons that are either used to kill people or oppress large swathes of the world?

Roll yer own... (4, Interesting)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762312)

I built a CnC machine (Computer controlled milling machine) It's a hoot. Building a fabricating shop is not that hard or overly expensive; if you have the skills to build and use one I highly recommend it.

Re:Roll yer own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762598)

I built a CnC machine (Computer controlled milling machine) It's a hoot.

[Citation needed].

Re:Roll yer own... (2)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762692)

I built a CnC machine (Computer controlled milling machine) It's a hoot.

[Citation needed].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnc [wikipedia.org]

Oh man?! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762348)

I'm going back to school. I gots robbed!

PRO-SOPA POST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762402)

While SOPA might have its warts, we need to do something about piracy in this country.

How can we have high quality content if the hippies are going to steal it all? Oh, I know, the hippies say it's not stealing, it's copying. Same difference to my wallet.

Stop the piracy. The free ride is over.

Is Apple involved? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762420)

If not, I am not interested.

Missing a vital step: (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762448)

To a school, grades are everything. Grades are what bring the funding. Grades are what bring the students. Educating students to a productive future is all well and good, but it is something to do in between preparing them to score highly on the exams. So what is the incentive for the schools to get in on this? Unless you can demonstrate a clear and measurable improvement in exam performance, there isn't much of one.

Re:Missing a vital step: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38764044)

As a California high school teacher and FIRST Robotics mentor I can say from firsthand experience that your statements are incorrect. Schools are not motivated purely by grades. Standardized test scores and grades are important but our robotics program gets shown off to every important person who comes to visit the school and is a selling point for students doing inter-district transfers. More students = more money which is also important to the school and the district. We have a CNC machine, a milling machine, band saw, drill press, welding equipment, forge, etc. and the kids know how to use them (and use them safely.) We have not demonstrated a clear and measurable improvement in exam scores due to our 6 year program but the principal, the superintendent and other administrators love the program and give us thousands of dollars a year to help us continue.

Innovation cannot be low cost (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762496)

In U.S and, increasingly elsewhere, patents are a threat to any would-be innovator, whether in high-school, or at a university lab, or in private industry.

If DARPA really wants to enable innovation, it should pay for each high school to have a team of 20 patent lawyers.

Re:Innovation cannot be low cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762956)

No kidding. I don't know how you can make anything new that isn't already under someones patent. With every bizz model, product design, thought process and even body functions already under a patent what is left?

Re:Innovation cannot be low cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38763454)

That's why "the next generation of innovators" will work for the patent holders, and everything that is profitable will be another breakthrough brought to you by The Pyramid Groupâ.

They will work for a salary.

If people keep going that route.

Re:Innovation cannot be low cost (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767560)

Given that patent lawyers almost universally support patents and inventors almost universally do not, surely if DARPA wants invention then it should do the opposite and encourage everyone towards being an inventor instead of a patent lawyer.

Just so long as we don't go to... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762540)

Cheap, Mafia-made makers.

They tend to get all screwed up on cyber-drugs.

I am rather thoughtful... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762556)

....on the topic of whether or not the USA is still ( with "still" receiving a heavy stress ) capable of major innovation. The most innovating producst I saw in, say, the last year, were either open-/crowdsourced, Asian or - for a small minority of them - European. I am mainly speaking about my own field ( software architecture and design ) industries in which I have worked: aerospace, the software industry, and agriculture. It should give anyone reading this some food to mentally chew on if the USA need DARPA, of all institutions, to try and keep a bleeding edge.

college level needs to be more hands on in tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762634)

Way to much of it is a long and dragged out with lot's of fluff and filler + load's of theory with little hands on work.

CS is not IT GET THAT HR?

Tech school and learn on the job is what is needed.

Maker program (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38762752)

Maker sounds like an interesting program. 150 plus years ago most young men became an apprentice and gained skills that last them a life time. Maybe we should repeal some compulsory education laws so that teenagers could have the option of being an apprentice.

This is extremely suspicious... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38762790)

Something tells me the end result of this is the US military as the global copyright police for physical objects.

Re:This is extremely suspicious... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770878)

The US military and state, federal private/gov groups are going to need/sell/build/work on a lot of drones and other devices.
Until laws change and they can buy in complex sub systems from low wage areas of the world they still need the US "classified" or like paperwork.
If a drone drops on to US suburbia "It was a Soviet era SAM..." may not stop the local press from asking more questions.
So the US needs skilled workers but expect to see a lot imported form "friendly" cheaper places.

Students Solving the Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38764358)

I think delivery of education itself is potentially going to be disrupted, something like discussed here [typepad.com]

But I think the best solutions to student education will come from students. There is a contest [desire2learn.com] (disclosure: I am connected with it) that is trying to encourage students to create tech (digital in this case rather than physical) that facilitates learning.

Why DARPA? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38764922)

Is anyone else disturbed that it's DARPA involved in this? While I'm not entirely convinced that Maker is the "future of innovation", I really don't like the idea that the military is going to be holding the purse strings and directing the research. I have the nightmare feeling that the Pentagram would be happiest if the US were to become a country where the major industry was mercenary contracting. While Microsoft or IBM certainly aren't paragons of virtue they're still preferable to an organization made up of people who voluntarily signed up to go kill people.

Re:Why DARPA? (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765248)

Many people in the Army have children too.

Re:Why DARPA? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38765378)

DARPA has a mandate to ensure the US military has access to the latest technology. If the US is not producing that technology then the US military will probably not have access to it.

Same as they have an interest that the US can buy computers made from entirely US made parts with a supply chain they can verify.

Get out there and make it happen (1)

jackjumper (307961) | more than 2 years ago | (#38766010)

This is timely - I'm just starting an effort to get a makerbot [makerbot.com] in our local middle school. Get out there and support engineering in your school!

Pro Make Rant (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38766040)

This is a fantastic thing.
Educating kids is THE long term solution for damn near all the problems that plague humanity.

RANT TIME!
Make. It's a culture thing. A lash-back against rampant consumerism. The buy, use, break, replace, cycle that expects everything to be expendable. Up to and including the workforce. We're in this race to the bottom of price but that comes bundled with long-term cost. A sort of DRM for products. When a tool from company X isn't compatible with the product from company Y, it ultimately hurts the consumer but only years down the road when you need to fix the thing. And caring about the long-term cost of the widget is a cultural thing.
The make culture depends on the hackability of tools and product. An aspect that is almost entirely un-advertised and sometimes specifically hidden away. It opens minds to the idea that we don't really need corporate overlords to give us gizmos to do specialy functions, because we can make/mod/buy the generic tools that do that function. And a host of others. That's a type of freedom that I can really get behind.

tl;dr I'm a fan of Make, hackerspaces, and the whole idea because it's good for humanity.

Don't drink and derive... (2)

ruhri (1480067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38766350)

I'm all for putting Maker's [makersmark.com] into schools, but wouldn't they have to lower the drinking age for that?

no Commen on this artical (1)

lixan (2557622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770922)

i love to hear you guy here.it's pretty good http://www.lixanindustries.com/ [lixanindustries.com]
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