What is the future of stuff, and why does it matter to Portland? If you track the rise of small piece manufacturers like Spooltown and the strength of high-tech manufacturers like Biamp Systems, and combine it with the growth of manufacturing and maker communities from ADX to Etsy, you might just think Portland is leading the resurgence of “American Made.”
The Portland Development Commission (PDC) thinks so. According to the PDC, advanced manufacturing is the largest of the targeted clusters in its five-year Economic Development Strategy, accounting for approximately 26 percent of the Portland Gross Metropolitan Product, making it the third highest in the country.
That’s why Concordia University, The Construct Foundation, Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) and Breaker Project are combining efforts to bring The Future of Stuff to Portland May 4-19.
A three-week design challenge, The Future of Stuff engages manufacturing industry professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, and designers and students, as a team of 17-to-24-year-olds research local manufacturing issues, then design and test the viability and social impact of business opportunities they identify. The experience culminates with “Pitch Day.”
Local business executives can sign-up for the three-day professional development track. Student “breakers” can sign-up with an option to earn college credit. Members of the public can view work in progress throughout the week.
The nonprofit Project Breaker, founded by TED Fellow Juliette LaMontagne, exemplifies the kind of innovative approach to transforming learning that’s leading Concordia University’s 3 to PhD™ collaborative efforts to create safer, healthier and more educated communities.
“We are preparing our students for current jobs, but also for vocations and opportunities to transform society that do not yet exist,” said David Kluth, Concordia’s Dean of the College of Theology, Arts & Sciences. “Concordia faculty are eagerly working across disciplines to create real-world contexts for learning, and we are excited to co-sponsor Project Breaker’s first visit to Portland.”