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$10,000 makers competition comes to Wichita

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 2:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - 48 hours to invent, create and sell your idea for a chance to win $10,000. If that sounds like the basis for a reality show, you’re not too far off. The upcoming Make48 competition in will showcase the ingenuity of makers in the Wichita area and pit the winners against some of the top thinkers from around the country.

For anyone unfamiliar with what a makerspace is, Ken Wiseman with GoCreate sums it up pretty simply.

“I would say it is like a gym, but it has all different types of equipment,” Wiseman said.

Except this equipment doesn’t build the body, it builds the mind. Wiseman is the Facilities Manager as GoCreate on the Wichita State University campus. He said the space has, not only the toold, but the teachers to help just about anyone learn how to make just about anything.

“We have a wood shop and metal shop, a design studio where you can make 3d prints,” Wiseman explained.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg at GoCreate, where the limit is only in the imagination of the people using it, and soon, anyone who wants to will have the opportunity to use the space for a unique 48 hour competition of creativity. The competition is called Make48, and Make48 co-creator and CEO Tom Gray said the winners of the Wichita leg will face off against winners from four other cities, in a pPBS docuseries, for a chance to win $10,000. More importantly than that, he explained, it’s about giving those who have the ideas that may make a difference in the world, the chance to bring them to life.

“You know, 100% of people have ideas, and they will throughout their lifetime, many of them, 5% of the population can actually physically build it,” Gray said. “They’lll be given a challenge, and they must solve the challenge by building a physical prototype, doing a sales sheet and a one minute pitch video.”

The competition is sponsored by Koch Industries, who also came up with the specific challenge competitors will be tasked with completing. Koch’s Melissa Scheffler said the competition gives everyday people the opportunity to realize something great they may not otherwise be able to achieve.

“Make48 is all about knowledge sharing, and knowledge sharing is important for transformation and progress. It’s true at Koch, it’s true for society as a whole. So, we’re all about supporting programs that give people those opportunities to discover develop, and then apply their talents to transform lives and to help others do the same.”

That sentiment is shared by Tom Gray, who said makerspaces supply the tools and knowledge to the people who supply the ideas for things that can make a difference in the lives of others.

“A lot of people have innovation but it’s stuck in their head. And until you meet great people around you and a great equipment, you’ll never get to realize that it can be a prototype,” he said. “We work with a lot of people around the country and we see the same same system, you know, 100% of people have ideas, and they will throughout their lifetime...so it’s really important for everyday people to meet these people (other makers), and that’s when magic happens.”

Eight teams will compete in the Make48 competition that takes place June 24-26. The specific challenge, thought up by a team at Koch Industries, has not been released, but Scheffler did offer a sneak peek at what it will involve.

“The challenge is going to focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship, doing more with less, she said. “What that means: This will actually be a real world problem that the teams will need to solve, and their solution should be able to be applied here in the community.”

Applications to compete are already being accepted and can be submitted on the Make48 Wichita Website. Winners will go on to compete in the national competition, slated for March 2022.

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