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Indian American Wins Maker Faire Bay Area Editor’s Choice Award

posted Mar 3, 2017, 10:04 PM by Diana Rohini LaVigne
By Diana Rohini LaVigne, India-West

SAN MATEO, Calif. — Shubham Banerjee’s DIY Braille Printer won the Editor’s Choice Award at Maker Faire, one of the world’s most prestigious grassroots invention showcases, here last month.

An ambitious 12-year-old Indian American, Banerjee noticed that Braille printers cost upwards of $2,000 and can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. He figured out how to build a Braille printer using inexpensive and readily available material: Legos.

“I love Legos. They are fun plus this is beneficial to so many,” the award winning inventor told India-West.

While many parents aggressively push their children towards entrepreneurship or to do things that will look good on a resume, Banerjee’s ascent into his role didn’t follow that path. He wanted to do something good and fearlessly moved ahead. When asked if his father was involved in his effort, he said, “Well, actually no. He hasn’t really helped at all.”

With over 1,100 maker entries participating in the fair, and over 200 presentations across eight stages and over 130,000 attendees hailing from 42 countries around the world, Maker Faire’s prestige is palatable.

“Our time at Maker Faire was excellent,” said Naresh Menon, co-founder and CEO of Micile, regarding his participation in last year’s fair. “One of the best parts of the event was seeing how many kids were interested in Micile. We had a steady stream of elementary and middle school-aged children who are starting to become interested in programming. They wanted to sit down and make their own apps right there. It was great being able to connect young children with an easy-to-use programming avenue; mainly because there are so few currently out there,” he told India-West.

“While amateur makers, students and parents found Micile to be a fun and practical learning environment, we were amazed by the number of entrepreneurs and developers who found it to be a great platform to launch their own business or product,” added Menon.

Maker Faire, having launched in 2006 in San Mateo, attracts top-notch celebrities such as television royalty, Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe and Myth Busters' Adam Savage. Maker Faire is also very kid-friendly by design with numerous kids’ stations and DIY zones around the faire grounds. Getting kids excited about science and technology and meeting fellow inventors seemed to be the over-reaching initiative of this two-day showcase.