Makerfaire Detroit

We had a great time at Makerfaire Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum on July 27.  We had the opportunity to meet with other maker groups from around the state and make some valuable connections.  As a special treat we got to meet the team from, the originators of the 'Coke and Mentos' phenomenon.  They fired off a 108-bottle salvo for the event.  Another cool maker project was the World's Largest Mousetrap Game from San Francisco (my zany home town).  But the most exciting part is just the energy level and tremendous enthusiasm shown by so many people who are committed to personal design, manufacturing and STEM education.

Posted on July 29, 2013 .

The Maker/Hacker Woodstock?

I am going to attend a very interesting-looking event, - Observe Hack Make 2013 in Amsterdam July 31 - Aug 4!  It is a convention/campout for folks in the Maker/Hacker community from around the world.  The site says:

The target audience includes free-thinkers, philosophers, activists, geeks, scientists, artists, creative minds and a whole bunch of people interested in lots of interesting stuff.


Sounds about right!  I have submitted a proposal to present a talk on Innovation 5 - we might get some global exposure and great advice! 

Posted on June 25, 2013 .

Innovation5 at the GLEQ Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Our team was well represented at the awards ceremony for the 2013 Great Lakes Entrepreneur Quest Social Entrepreneurship Challenge.  We had the opportunity to meet and talk extensively with experts in strategic planning, marketing and intellectual property, as well as meet and interact with an amazing group of social entrepreneurs that are energizing Michigan in myriad ways.  Although we did not win an award, we received valuable and very positive feedback from contest judges, the experts we talked to, and from our fellow social entrepreneurs.  Our awesome Innovation5 t shirts were a great marketing tool - folks kept asking 'how many people do you have here?  They seem to be everywhere!"

Posted on June 23, 2013 .

The Wall Street Journal Special Report on Advanced Manufacturing

The Wall Street Journal has a special report online that looks at the future of manufacturing as the new rapid prototyping and 3D printing tools advance and become ubiquitous.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article "Advanced Manufacturing, the New Revolution" by John Koten:  

"Welcome to the New Industrial Revolution—a wave of technologies and ideas that are creating a computer-driven manufacturing environment that bears little resemblance to the gritty and grimy shop floors of the past. The revolution threatens to shatter long-standing business models, upend global trade patterns and revive American industry."

 "And thanks to plummeting prices, small companies have access to better, cheaper manufacturing equipment and design tools—giving even one-person startups the chance to create market-shaking innovations. Many people liken the era we're in to the early days of computing, where upstart hobbyists in their garages came up with huge advances that changed the industry."

There are a number of other articles at the link above that all predict similar revolutionary changes in worker productivity and even the global flow of goods as these technologies mature.  In a lighter vein, another article by John Koten features Jay Leno who has his own 3D printer to make parts for his vast vintage car collection.  Here are some quotes from Jay:

The TV host agrees that the new tools will increasingly empower other individuals and entrepreneurial ventures to make increasingly sophisticated things themselves. "Manufacturing started out with craftsmen making stuff in small cottage industries," he says. "In many ways I think we're going to go back to that cottage-industry model.

"You know, Edison had a dream that every household would generate its own electricity. And Ford wanted people to be able to distill their own fuel. In the end, maybe those dreams won't look all that far-fetched."

Music to our ears!


Posted on June 11, 2013 .

Presentation at ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference.

Our presentation at the ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda conference was very successful.  We had lots of opportunities to talk with national leaders in STEM education and received very positive feedback both in our presentation and i informal networking.  Our paper from the conference is available here and our PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here as a .pdf file.

Posted on June 9, 2013 .

Great support at Be A Tourist in your Own Town at Impression 5

The project planning team had a great time meeting and talking to many of the 3,000 visitors to Impression 5 Science Center during Be A Tourist in Your Own Town Day.  We received tremendous interest in the concept and were able to survey over 150 visitors.  The results were very positive.  Over 40% of the visitors were residents within the Lasing School District, which is an area where we want to focus our work.  Over 50% of the visitors had not been to Impression 5 in the past year, or ever, which suggests to us that there is great untapped potential to reach this community.    

Posted on June 9, 2013 .

3D Printing Breaks New Ground (Beef?)

I thought it was pretty impressive when Boeing began to produce jet engine parts by 3D printing  and others are using them to build houses , but now NASA is supporting a proposal to create a space kitchen that would prepare and cook food for astronauts on their way to Mars using a modified RepRap , homebrew 3D printer!

Posted on May 22, 2013 .

Meet our student project planning team!

We have had great success in recruiting a very diverse and motivated student team to develop our project plan this summer under our Center for Regional Innovation Co-Learning project sponsored by the the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development and the US Economic Development Agency.  We have students who from LCC and from MSU with interests in engineering, media, communications, early childhood education, community development and more.  We are very excited about the project and look forward to an extremely productive summer.  We are grateful to the Center as well as to Spartan Innovations and Lyman Briggs College at MSU for the support of our team. 

You can find photos and brief biographies of our team members in the 'Our Team' page here.

Posted on May 14, 2013 .

Stakeholder meeting

We attended a recent stakeholder meeting facilitated by Prima Civitas to bring together those interested in entrepreneurial support in the region.  The meeting was a good opportunity to meet and talk about mutual interests and needs.   The group agreed that there was real potential in a regional collaborative effort and meetings will continue to bring this about.

Posted on May 14, 2013 .

Students - meet the Innovation 5 team at two upcoming events

The Innovation 5 team will be meeting with students who are considering joining the project planning team on Michigan State University's campus on Friday, Mar 22 at noon in the Creativity Exploratory meeting room in 306 Linton Hall.  A pizza lunch will be provided.

The team will also be available to meet students at the Lansing Community Colllege Internship and Job Fair on Thursday, March 28 from 2:30 to 6:30.  

Students - please feel free to drop by to learn more about the Innovation 5 project.

Faculty - please encourage interested students to attend one of these events or to contact us through this web page.


Tom Deits

Posted on March 17, 2013 .

Recruitment picking up speed

We are actively recruiting students to form our Project Planning team, and we are getting some good recruits already.  We are working with the LCC Leadership Council, the MSU Creativity Exploratory and Lyman Briggs College to identify students who are interested in helping develop a fully-fledged plan for Innovation 5.  If you are interested in participating or know someone who might be interested, please contact us.

Tom Deits

Posted on March 15, 2013 .

FabLab webinar

I attended the recent United States FabLab Network webinar on fablab operations.  It was a good no-nonsense introduction to the practical aspects of setting up and operating a fablab.  This webinar and other in the series are available online here: You will need to allow installation of Blackboard Collaborate on your computer to view the webinar.  The links ask for an email address but registration is not required; just enter your name and email.

Posted on March 8, 2013 .

Innovation 5 Joins Microenterprise Network of Michigan

I have joined the Microenterprise Network of Michigan (MNM) to represent Innovation 5 during its early stages of development.  The MNM is a statewide association for entrepreneurship and microbusiness development.  MNM offers a variety of tools for entrepreneurs and we look forward to soon becoming one of the resources that help Michigan entrepreneurs prosper,  

You can find out more about the MNM at

Posted on March 8, 2013 .