June 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm

3 Michigan mayors at White House for innovation event

Washington — Three Michigan mayors will be at the White House today for an event with President Barack Obama that highlights American ingenuity and innovation.

Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell will join two dozen mayors, CEOs of RadioShack, Kickstarter, 3D Systems and inventor Dean Kamen, as well as Michigan inventors and others at the first "White House Maker Faire," part of a nationwide movement.

Obama will see science fair winners and other innovators trying to invent products that could become the next iPhone or future car model. A Palo Alto, Calif., man invented a $5 chemistry set to teach children "to not only learn about science and engineering but explore and address real-world issues like water quality and contamination," the White House said. Another inventor created a 17-foot, 2,200-pound robotic giraffe that “walks” on wheels and is powered by a 12-horsepower hybrid fuel-engine motor.

Sally Carson of Ann Arbor created Pinoccio, a toolkit that makes it easy for Makers to create web-enabled projects, and Matthew Burnett is the Detroit co-founder and CEO of Maker's Row, an online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with product-based businesses.

Launched in the Bay Area in 2006, organizers call the Maker Faire "part science fair, part county fair" and "an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors."

Obama will see an invention called Incubator Helping Save Premature Babies in Rural Villages, invented by student Jane Chen at Stanford University. She tackled the challenge of developing a baby incubator for $200, which is about 1 percent of the price of existing technology. From its prototype developed in a TechShop makerspace in San Francisco, it has now helped more than 50,000 babies around the globe, the White House said.

Another exhibit Obama will see is from West Philadelphia teens who built a car called the Factory Five 818 biodiesel hybrid.

Taliya Carter, Joshua Pigford and Derrick Bell, with the help of their teacher Michael Lumb and their principal Simon Hauger of Workshop School, built the car, which gets 100 miles per gallon. The school has been designing and building fuel-efficient cars since 1998.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com