On October 6 and 7, The Southern Taiwan Maker Base (run by the Workforce Development Agency, Yunlin–Chiayi–Tainan Regional Branch) held the International Vocational Training Maker Seminar, bringing together many experts to share their thoughts on the maker movement. Guests included Nicolas Lassabe, founder of Artilect FabLab France; Donghoon Lee, CEO of Korean makerspace Fab Monster; Jongmin Park, research associate at Korea Creative Content Agency; Ted Hung, founder of FabLab Taipei; Weixiang Huang (黃偉翔), CEO of Skills for U; Bingxin Cai (蔡秉欣), chief of the Vocational Education Division, New Taipei City Department of Education; and Jiahao Zhang (張家豪), deputy technical director of the Southern Taiwan Maker Center.
Trial and error, that’s what makers do
The event started with a speech by Artilect FabLab founder Nicolas Lassabe, who said that the maker movement has been going on in France for quite a while. Young people enjoy visiting FabLab to realize and tinker with their ideas. Several successful teams have come from the Artilect FabLab, including NaïoTechnologies.
Two young engineers started from a simple idea. They realized there was a shortage of farmers, and so there was a labor shortage in European agriculture. Many young people do not want to be farmers, which has caused a loss of farming skills, which is why automated agriculture has become so important.
On the other hand, the chemicals that we use on our crops are harmful to the environment, damaging soil, plants and animals. This is the problem the engineers are striving to solve.
Soon after, they made their first plowing and weeding robot. It was not a success. However, they kept learning from their mistakes.
In 2010, after a successful crowdfunding campaign, they finally made a prototype, and by 2018 the company had grown to 30 employees, making them one of the biggest automated agriculture companies in the world.
Lassabe’s speech made it clear that many people in France look at failure in a more positive way: You always fail before you succeed, so what’s important is to keep making improvements. This is something Taiwan can learn from France.
Full government support is key
The speeches of Korean makerspace Fab Monster Donghoon Lee and Korea Creative Content Agency research associate Jongmin Park made it clear that the Korean government has played an important role in promoting the maker movement in Korea, both through policy and by systematically implementing maker education to enable all students to become highly skilled makers.
The Korean government is also training maker coaches who will promote the idea of Maker Edutainment (Education + Entertainment) to the public.
Education and local cultivation
Bingxin Cai (蔡秉欣), chief of the Vocational Education Division of the New Taipei City Department of Education, pointed out many similarities between Taiwan and Korea in the promotion of the maker movement.
The New Taipei City Department of Education is devoted to maker education. Since 2014, six New Taipei schools have been provided with maker classrooms, elementary school children now have access to maker tools, and lesson plans are designed to pique their interest.
Special core features are appearing in high schools too, with each school having a dedicated teacher for maker courses who will also participate in broader lesson planning to create more possibilities for each educational stage.
On top of that, the New Taipei City Department of Education is also building an even better environment for makers, by organizing big events open to all and promoting family-friendly activities. Parents and children can now learn all about maker movement together.
The speeches revealed that many countries are using their specific strengths to promote the maker movement through education. We hope to see more international forums like this in the future to help Taiwan’s maker environment improve even more.