Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 07 July 2016


From cotton candy shooters to freedom electric vehicles and microbial culture kits, this year’s Maker Faire, which saw a record 600 do-it-yourself enthusiasts dreaming up new solutions for everyday problems, had no lack of fun ideas and wacky prototypes.

Min Yaacob

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, checking out one of many creative projects on show at the Maker Faire.

Makers young and old came up with plenty of fun projects in science, art, craft, engineering and technology.

And Singapore wants more of this creative spirit.

It wants to excite the young with the possibilities of tinkering and creating things, and encouraging everyone to contribute ideas to the Smart Nation effort. 

Maker Faire Singapore was one of the highlights of the 2016 Singapore Science Festival (SSF) aimed at sparking interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) among youths.

“Platforms like Maker Faire are very important because they draw people from all walks of life, get them together to showcase what they can do, and most important of all instill the sense that all of us can create something,” said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister in Charge of Cybersecurity and Muslim Affairs, in his remarks at the official opening of the two-day event on 25 June.


Families, and tech enthusiasts young and old, were out in force to enjoy the wide range of Maker Faire exhibits and demos.

He said the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) will continue to reach out to the community to promote learning and the appreciation of a maker mindset. The Minister cited the IDA Labs@NLB, located at the Jurong Regional Library, and IDA Lab on Wheels as important touch points for Singaporeans of all ages to experience tinkering with technology. 

IDA Labs is an initiative to provide physical lab spaces for generating new ideas, developing new technologies and testing out proof of concepts. 

IDA Labs@NLB is the first such facility to be located in the heartlands, while the IDA Lab on Wheels is a bus retrofitted with interesting and innovative technologies to reach out to students and encourage them to pursue tech as a curriculum or career choice. 

Creative Makers 

Over the past two years, more than 600 workshops have been conducted, reaching out to over 12,000 participants. 

Mr Low Yee Cheok, one of the makers taking part at this year’s fair, was among those who tapped on the courses and equipment available at IDA Labs at Jurong Regional Library to bring his ideas into fruition. 


Mr Low Yee Cheok picked up his 3D printing skills from IDA Labs@NLB and combined it with his precision engineering know-how to create functional parts.

Earlier this year, he attended a 3D printing course with the aim of learning to build functional parts for his model aircraft and other gadgets. 

From there, he learnt how to design and print in 3D.

Tapping on his knowledge of precision engineering and after researching on various types of plastics, he was able to create parts that could be used in an actual aircraft model and other gadgets. These were displayed at his booth, FUNctional, at this year’s fair.

Another maker with the IDA Labs connection was Mr Jaron Lee, co-founder of FOM Innovations, who was showcasing an improvised version of the start-up’s Freedom Electric Vehicle. 

During a four-month internship at IDA Labs last year, Mr Lee realised the importance of tapping into the start-up ecosystem. 

“During my internship, I heard a lot of stories from start-ups and learnt about the big impact that IDA has on the start-up scene. We decided to hotdesk at IDA Labs and took part in events like Tech Saturday, InnovFest Unbound and Maker Faire, which gave us the opportunity to network with people such as parts suppliers, manufacturers and potential investors.”

FUNctional and FOM Innovations were just two of the 330 booths at this year’s Maker Faire, which was held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and attracted some 20,000 people. 

Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive, Science Centre Singapore and Co-Chairperson of the SSF 2016 Organising Committee, described it as “a family-friendly celebration of do-it-yourself culture combining innovation, creativity and resourcefulness”. 

Solving the World's problems

The Maker Movement dates back to 2006 in the United States, and Singapore held its first Mini Maker Faire in 2012 which featured 20 exhibits and attracted 1,000 attendees. 

Some of these pioneering participants received “long service” certificates from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister in Charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office, who also visited this year’s fair.


Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs (left), and Mr William Hooi (right). Mr Hooi sees the maker movement as a way for people to learn skills and create a vocation using digital tools.

Among them was Mr William Hooi, who was part of the organising team for the first Maker Faire and has since gone on to co-found the OneMaker Group and set up a prototyping lab at the National Design Centre.

Mr Hooi sees the maker movement as a way for people to learn skills and create a vocation using digital tools. 

“They can learn about electronics and how use tools like laser cutters and 3D printers to create something, build a startup and earn a living,” he said.  “We do this through open sharing; we do not hoard ideas. That is how we are able to do what we do.”

Speaking to makers at the event, Dr Balakrishnan also highlighted the possibilities inherent in an open approach to tackling problems. 

“I feel that the way to solve problems in the future is not to make it the government’s problem or only the domain of expert, but to take and open source approach to solve challenges.”

And as the prices of hardware and bandwidth continue to trend towards negligible, “what it means is that in the future, the limiting factor is not hardware or connectivity; you are only limited by your imagination”. 

With this as the backdrop, the maker movement is really part of a cultural, educational and social transformation which is essential in the world today, he said.

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