The Maker Revolution is Here

09-07-14 jay 0 comment

The head of SpaceLab, Jay Margalus, writes a weekly column for The Mokena Messenger. This is a re-post from that column.

The third industrial revolution is upon us. Many of us don’t even know it yet.

What were the other two?

The first industrial revolution involved man harnessing power. Water power, steam power; power to run machines, and power to automate processes. The lives of ordinary people were changed forever for the better as we built new tools that produced less expensive goods, and, not to mention, more jobs.

The second industrial revolution saw an expansion of networks and infrastructure. This revolution was steel powered and electricity powered. Railways made travel faster, and mass production created everything from the car to the supermarket. And, as with the first revolution, the United States saw an increase in jobs and inexpensive goods.

But let others praise those ancient times; I’m glad I was born in these.

We live in exciting times. The third industrial revolution, which started not too long ago with the rise of the interconnected communications (see: the internet), the investment in renewable energy, and, of some importance to this author, digital manufacturing (see: 3D Printing), is upon us.

We now live in a world where a hospital can print (think about it!) a human skull. Where anybody can design and print ordinary around-the-house goods: light switch faceplates, camera lenses, musical instruments, those little plastic figurines that your kids are spending hundreds of dollars on. All of this stuff can be printed from your home on a machine that costs less than a fridge!

But as cool as it is to print a flute from the comfort of your living room, there’s something more important at work here. Technology is empowering us to be inventors. To create and indeed change the world around us as we see fit. We are on the eve of a major shift that will empower us all, and every one of us can be a part of that change.

And that’s where Mokena comes in. The south side of Chicago has always been the home of blue collar work and getting things done. The third industrial revolution, then, seems like a perfect fit for our own village.

How can Mokena harness this third industrial revolution as it begins? What new technology can we build? What new businesses can we bring into our town? What new jobs can we create?

I don’t know for sure yet, but the beginnings of change are already sewn into the tapestry of the people who live here.