Maker Faire gives pro­fes­sion­als a chance to show off their pas­sions

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Marco San­tana

By day, Al Baum works as a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer for a lo­cal com­pany that builds at­trac­tions for theme parks.

But by night, the 53-year-old from east Or­lando is a garage tin­kerer.

He will be sur­rounded this week­end by 300 other hob­by­ists, robot builders and ar­cade game cre­ators at the sixth an­nual Maker Faire Or­lando.

The two-day fes­ti­val at the Cen­tral Florida Fair­grounds is a show­case for cre­atives around town such as Baum, who works for Dy­namic At­trac­tions in south Or­lando.

Baum is an in­ven­tor who builds ma­chines fit­ted with tank-like tracks to trans­form stan­dard chairs or stand­ing plat­forms into all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles. He shares their blue­prints on­line and shows them in ac­tion on his YouTube chan­nel.

The idea is to ex­pose oth­ers to projects that can be shared with fam­ily, he said.

“I want other peo­ple to build them as a hobby for sev­eral rea­sons,” he said. “It’s a good way to spend fam­ily time to­gether. I en­vi­sion most of th­ese projects are built as fa­ther-son, fa­ther-daugh­ter projects or by scout troops.”

Baum has been post­ing the videos, some of which have drawn more than 3 mil­lion views, for more than 10 years.

His will­ing­ness to share his plans with oth­ers is com­mon at the fair, or­ga­niz­ers say.

“The ma­jor­ity are show­cas­ing their pas­sion projects, the things they do on nights and week­ends,” said Candy Cole, pres­i­dent of the non­profit Maker Ef­fect Foun­da­tion. “They are here not only to show off their work but also tell peo­ple how they over­came ob­sta­cles along the way.”

It’s an at­ti­tude Cole says she has seen since the event started six years ago.

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