By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Knoxvillian Doug Speight said about his participation in last week’s first-ever “Maker Faire” hosted by the White House.
When we caught-up with the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cathedral Innovation Group, LLC by phone on Friday, he was still energized by the Wednesday experience.
One of the reasons he was so pumped was the young attendees.
“There were amazing kids from around the country doing things with technology,” Speight said, citing a 12-year old from California who used Legos to create a Braille printer to help a blind friend of his.
It was not the Knoxvillian’s first trip to the White House, but he quickly added, “It was nothing like this.”
The event enabled inventors and tinkerers from around the country to show-off products made using new tools like 3D printers, so it was only natural to think that Speight might be involved.
After all, Cathedral Innovation Group offers companies, universities, community colleges and laboratories two leasing options for 3D printers – dedicated equipment that is available only to the lessee and a shared system whereby Cathedral “buys back and brokers” excess time on the machines.
Speight is also the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at this year’s “GIGTANK” in Chattanooga, leading the additive manufacturing track.
In spite of those roles, he credits Bonnie Carroll of Information International Associates in Oak Ridge for making the initial connection for him with the White House’s Office and Science and Technology Policy.
Speight drove to DC for the event and had several products made by the start-ups participating in the “GIGTANK” additive manufacturing track. Weather limited space, so he was not able to have a separate exhibit.
In spite of that, he says, “They got an earful about Tennessee.”
Others from the region in attendance were Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, and Hardin Valley Academy’s Fletcher Blue.