U-M to Bring Together Health Ideas, Know-how in Maker Faire-type Festival


Taking a cue from the Maker Faire movement, which celebrates invention, creativity, and resourcefulness, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will host its own hands-on day of design and maker activities — but with a health slant.

“We need to tap into the brilliance of our community to create and promote health,” says faculty organizer Joyce Lee, an associate professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases and environmental health sciences at U-M. “It’s about coming together and promoting participatory design of tools and technologies for health.”

The “We Make Health Fest,” to be held Aug. 16, seeks to encourage design for health at a grassroots level, teach visitors about new tools and technologies that could be used to promote health, and bridge the gap between those who have an idea for a health project and technical collaborators who can bring that idea to life.

“With the latter, we become sort of a health design cupid,” Lee says.

An example of a recent collaboration is Insaman, short for Insulin Man. A young patient (see photo at left) developed the superhero concept, and now a U-M art and design student and someone with app-building experience are bringing Insaman to life as a way to help diabetic children manage their glucose levels.

Presenters at the festival will include Jose Gomez-Marquez, medical device designer at the Little Devices Lab at MIT, and John Costik, the innovator behind the #wearenotwaiting movement, which encourages the creation of technologies that benefit diabetes patients. The organizers welcome volunteer presenters on other maker topics as well, Lee says.

“The difference between this and another type of demonstration is that presenters will talk about the skills you have that can equip you to use this type of technology — and not just tell people about an invention but show them and promote hands-on activity,” says Emily Puckett Rodgers, special projects librarian at the U-M library and organizer of the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire through an organization called A2Geeks. “We hope it will be a point of inspiration and collaboration.”

The event — which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Great Lakes Rooms in the Palmer Commons — is free to the public, although advance registration is required.

For more information or to register, visit makehealth.us.