The chance to see racing drones, submersible robots and the best in digital design drew 1,000 people to "MakerX 2018: The Columbus Maker Expo" on April 21 at the Reynoldsburg High School Summit Road campus.

Thomie Timmons, innovation labs coordinator for Reynoldsburg City Schools, said a sunny day and warmer temperatures helped fuel the fun.

"The weather provided a great opportunity for some outdoor activities like drone demonstrations and submersible autonomous robots," he said. "Inside was just as fun. The Capital University MIDI Band was awesome and activities ranged from virtual reality to construction challenges for kids.

"The robot that mirrored participants' movements and the life-size R2-D2 were also big hits," he said.

The event took up 30,000 square feet with 65 exhibitors, including student groups from Reynoldsburg, Hilliard, Westerville, Gahanna and Pickerington, along with organizations such as the PAST Foundation, Microsoft, MakerGear, Tech Studio from COSI, Buckeye Education Systems, the National Robotics Challenge and The Point at Otterbein University.

"We had a lot of participants and excitement about the event," Timmons said. "I was particularly happy with the diversity of attendees who came to the event."

He said feedback was "extremely positive."

"As for the site, it worked perfectly for an inaugural event," he said. "The facilities and hospitality of Reynoldsburg City Schools were essential to getting this event off the ground.

"We are still looking for a more centralized venue, but we have yet to decide how we are going to move forward," he said. "We intend to strive to keep cost low for participant ticketing and exhibitor fees."

MakerX was free for students; those 18 and older paid a $5 admission fee.

School board Vice President Debbie Dunlap said MakerX was a "fabulous event."

"There were families from all over central Ohio enjoying all the tinkering this experience had to offer," she said.

She said the event showcased more than innovative automation.

"Art pieces, including welded sculptures and lathed pens made from coffee beans and pinecones, showed me that technology goes well beyond robots and virtual reality," she said.

Informational booths included a display by the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science about a proposed hyperloop train that could take passengers from Columbus to Chicago in half an hour.

Dunlap said she enjoyed the experience.

"It was so cool -- students, weekend warriors and professionals stood side by side, showcasing their innovative technology, sharing ideas and encouraging experimentation," she said. "It was an event like nothing I've ever attended before -- and it was right here in our own backyard."

Timmons said he hopes the success of MakerX will encourage more sponsorships and additional involvement in planning next year's event.

"It was good to see the central Ohio area has the capacity and interest to have an event like MakerX," he said. "It is an example of the innovative spirit of central Ohio."

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