University of Ottawa President Links Makerspaces, Innovation and Humanitarian Needs

In a recent speech to the Economic Club of Canada, University of Ottawa President Allan Rock described a wonderful story of 6 year-old Sebastian Chavarria who was fitted with a low-cost 3D printed hand thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of student “makers”. This remarkable achievement, Mr. Rock explained, was made possible as a result of giving university students access to the tools of 21st century digital fabrication and spaces to explore and create innovative designs.

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3D printed prosthetic hands made at University of Ottawa Makerspace

While President Rock noted that the maker movement is growing globally, he specifically pointed to the tremendous potential of this movement for humanitarian benefit:

“One of the most exciting advantages of the movement is its capacity to respond to humanitarian needs with cost-effective solutions, including producing inexpensive umbilical cord clips for hospitals in Haiti”

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Project Daniel, Not Impossible Labs

I could not agree more. Innovation can be unleashed anywhere in the world provided that those who have the means and the freedom to create are given access to the tools of making. I am always reminded of this spirit of “making” by the photo below of a young African boy who caused a sensation in his village by building a bicycle made entirely of wood. Imagine the potential of giving these young innovators access to modern tools of manufacturing and linking them to a growing population of makers through globally-networked online communities.

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“Smiles of Innovation” Photo courtesy of Sabine Runciman

Read Allan Rock’s complete speech Inventing our future: How universities can help Canada become the most innovative country in the world.

Visit the University of Ottawa Makerspace

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Aletheia Guild

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