DaVinci’s Faire and BarCamp has come to a successful conclusion for 2015, adding to the region’s long list of great un-conferences. This year’s event was held on Saturday, April 11th and Sunday April 12th at the Main Campus of Manatee Technical College. It’s a great facility with meeting rooms, presentation equipment, a wonderful cafeteria, plenty of tables for conversation, meals, and gaming, and plenty of room to grow.
The Main Campus of Manatee Technical College has a large open area perfect for watching drones fly by and robots run about. It’s also great for mingling with your fellow community members.
If this was your first BarCamp event, you might have been overwhelmed had it not been for the ample signage, on-line schedule, sign-up board, and helpful volunteers. There was a lot to see and do!
Since the conference is free-form, people vote with their feet: if you don’t like a session, you’re free to get up and walk out and participate in another. The “participate” part here is big, so make sure when you attend any talk you speak up and engage in an exchange. Anyone can attend a lecture, but this is DaVinci’s Faire and BarCamp, where you are expected to converse and are every bit as important as the speakers.
What started as a technology conference, or “un-conference”, where participants create sessions based on topics of their choosing, now includes business and start-ups, health topics, games, celestial phenomena, and so much more. This year’s un-conference featured talks ranging from “Learning from other cultures”, “How to get your ideal job”, “European chocolates”, and on to tech themes like “Ask a Word Press Dev” and “Hats of SEO”. Did you want to create an app in 30 minutes? Well, we had a live demonstration on how it could be done! There was a real menagerie of topics over the two day event.
Tracy Ingram drew lots of laughs and respect for his delivery style and knowledge of SEO methods and tactics in today’s complex and ever changing environment.
Did we mention that lunch was free for those that pre-registered? Not only that, but cookies and coffee also made rounds throughout the day to keep conference goers energized and moving.
On display in the hall was a great setup of technology and equipment by the Suncoast Science Center and Faulhaber Fab Lab. And let’s not forget the people! They have some great folks working for the Center that were only too eager to show off what they were doing via personal demonstrations of their robots and gadgets.
FreeFab 3D had an impressive display of their Monolith 3D Printer. We chatted with the founders and they bring a vast amount of diverse experience and knowledge, particularly from the printing industry. Their passion for making stuff appears to make a great team! If you want to know even more about them, check out their website: http://www.freefab3d.com
The Suncoast Makers had an impressive table with all sorts of creations. The ingenuity, hard work, and innovation that hails from this group is nothing short of amazing. Did we mention we love Makers?
There was some great gaming being led by Greg Schroeder. The two boardgames featured this year were Khet, a game of laser chess, and Twin Tin Bots, a robot-programming game where players harvest crystals from the game board and bring them back to their base while avoiding or menacing competing players.
Speaking of robots, members of FIRST Robotics, the organization who’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, were busy with their robots in the hall engaging students in mentor-based science, engineering and technology skills. And fun! Did we mention how cool and fun robots are? The students, mentors, and parents were available to chat to about their inventions in between running and configuring them. The FIRST Robotics Competition that these robots run in is an international high school competition. Each year, teams of students compete to build robots weighing up to 120 pounds (54 kg), not including battery and bumpers, that can complete a task, which changes every year. The one pictured below was designed to lift a barrel and was referred to by many at DaVinci’s Faire as the “Recycle-Bot.”
The “Quick Pitch” contest culminated on day two, Sunday. Participants worked with pros to refine their business pitch and deliver it in front of the crowd gathered in the main auditorium. Everyone received valuable feedback and showed improvement from their beginnings.
Who knows what next year will hold? The speakers or sessions aren’t plotted in advance, as they are created the morning of by people who want to sign up on the board to speak. The spirit of the event is to let the community, including robot enthusiasts, drone pilots, makers, developers, designers, geeks and more from the Sarasota-Bradenton area run the board, sessions, and conference, so expect new topics every year that will continue to inform and delight you.
A big “thank you” goes out to our sponsors and volunteers, you’re the ones that make it all happen. Join us again in 2016 for another terrific DaVinci’s Faire and BarCamp. See you then!
We have more great pictures of 2015 DaVinci’s Faire and BarCamp posted at our Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/barcampsarasota