Burlington’s connection to the Maker Movement started at the Maker Faire in San Mateo in 2011 and now we’re back there again representing for Makers all over North Carolina. Maker Faire Burlington producer Ilsa Spaan is in San Mateo California at the flagship Maker Faire this weekend. Ilsa was chosen as one of only seven Maker Faire producers from around the world for the “producer in residence” program. She is volunteering her time this week to help produce the Faire. She’ll be helping to support thousands of exhibitors and an audience that could be as many as one hundred twenty thousand people over the three day weekend. While in San Mateo she’ll also be learning new skills and information that will help make Maker Faire Burlington an even bigger and better event in the future.
Ilsa became involved with the Alamance Makers Guild in late 2011 as the new organization was working on launching the first Burlington Mini Maker Faire event. As a graphic designer Ilsa wanted to be involved with building our maker community and the chance to work on a national brand was something she couldn’t turn down. More importantly she wanted to save us from our own bad design.
Since that first event Ilsa has expanded her involvement with the Alamance Makers Guild to become a board of directors member and has gone on to expand her responsibilities as producer of Maker Faire Burlington far beyond help with graphics in that first year. She has designed our theme and tee shirts each year, manages our volunteer effort, manages our website, writes and edits most of our blog posts, handles media and outreach, and a lot more.
In addition to other degrees Ilsa is a graduate of the Advertising and Graphic Design program at Alamance Community College. Her education there allowed her to formalize and refine her skills in graphic design and has led to a successful career in industry and has helped her with her work as an entrepreneur through Leads Creative and through STEAM Junction.
Ilsa’s connection to Alamance Community College has helped Maker Faire Burlington and several years worth of Advertising and Graphic Design students. Through Ilsa and Denise Archuletta (instructor and department head for Graphic Design now retired) we’ve worked with ACC students and given them a chance to work with 21st century 3D design skills and Laser Cutting. Students were given design parameters and created laser-cut and 3D designs to help promote Maker Faire Burlington. Then they produced a few hundred of each design and distributed them all around Alamance County and surrounding areas to help promote our Maker Faire. Ilsa mentored students through the process and critiqued and helped them improve their designs.
Ilsa is also on the board of advisors for the Advertising and Graphic Design Program at Alamance Community College. She also supports ACC events related to STEM Education and the Maker Movement. This year she took part in the “Girls Take Over Tech” event managing a table that promoted the Alamance Makers Guild, Maker Faire Burlington, and STEAM Junction with hands-on STEM Demonstrations. Girls Take Over Tech is a new yearly event at ACC aimed at middle and high school aged girls to help them find educational and career pathways that lead to sustainable and higher paying jobs in STEM fields.
Ilsa is also a maker in her own right and has learned skills like design for CNC Machining, Laser Cutting, 3D Printing, and much more. Skills that come in handy as co-founder and co-owner of STEAM Junction, Burington’s Makerspace. Her projects have included a CNC routed “Makers Retreat” light up wooden sign, designs for Paper Circuits for workshops with the Alamance County Public Libraries, multiple laser-cut and engraved give-aways for camping events including her trip to Burning Man, laser and CNC stamps for print making, and many more. She has even been a bee keeper at home and learned a lot about glass blowing through STEAM Junction’s glass blowing workshops with George-ann Greth.
In addition to our own Maker Faire in Burlington Ilsa has also been part of our outreach to other communities helping out with advice and assistance to help start other regional events. She has also exhibited as part of the Alamance Makers Guild at World Maker Faire 2014, the National Maker Faire 2015, Maker Faire North Carolina (multiple years), The Charlotte Mini Maker Faire, two years of our local Barnes and Noble Mini Maker Faire, and has exhibited and supported 100’s of local maker events and meetings. She was also a producer for “Burlington’s Maker Takeover” in 2015 and 2016 a Downtown Burlington event supporting local makers and was an organizer for two of our “Maker Cities” maker roundtable events.
Ilsa was even invited to the White House by the Office of Science and Technology Policy for her leadership in our community in 2015. She was invited (along with others from Burlington NC) to the Kickoff for the President’s “Week of Making” and participated at events at the Capitol Hill Maker Faire as well as the National Maker Faire.
In reading this maker-biography about Ilsa it should be clear why she was picked as one of seven people from around the world for the 2019 Producers in Residence Program at Maker Faire San Mateo. The producers, volunteers, and supporters of Maker Faire Burlington are very proud of Ilsa’s accomplishments. We are lucky to have her, her creativity, and her energy as part of our local maker eco-system. Ilsa is always pushing each of us to do better and to be better.
Once Ilsa returns to Burlington she’ll share her stories, photos, and video clips from the San Mateo Maker Faire.