Friday, July 11, 2014
A Glimpse of Shanghai's Maker Scene
Before my trip, I contacted DFRobot (China's version of Sparkfun) with questions about the maker scene in Shanghai. Early on during my stay in Shanghai, I met up with Berlina Li, a DFRobot Employee who was kind enough to respond to my emails! She invited me to a gathering at the new fab lab at Tongji University.
The fab lab there is small, but they have some funds incoming this summer that will fill their facilities out with power tools, CNC machines and other fabrication equipment. It was great to see how things are done at a university on the other side of the planet, and I had the opportunity to chat with students and faculty about the kinds of projects happening at this design-focused college.
After chatting with Berlina about Milwaukee's maker scene and my practice as an artist, designer and maker, she proposed I come do a talk at Xinchejian, Shanghai's first Hackerspace. While I was off in Dalian for the conference, she organized a meetup in Xinfab (Xinchejian's fabrication lab). The talk was well attended - around 20 people came to listen and chat with me about art, design, making and sharing. I also had a chance to scope out Shanghai's equivilant of the Milwaukee Makerspace.
While I only saw a tiny cross-section of maker culture in Shanghai, it was exciting to see the same kind of excitement and curiosity surrounding making, creativity and science. I will certainly have to return some day to explore further.