Trenton Computer Festival in its 40th year

By Jillian Festa
Staff Writer


     
As part of the Trenton Computer Festival, the Sarnoff Collection in Roscoe West held a 3D printing demonstration and design tutorial on Saturday, March 21. The brief, drop-in workshop allowed visitors to learn the basics of 3D printing through the program FreeCAD, which can be downloaded for free online.

The Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) is the oldest computer festival in the world with a 40-year history. This year at the College, the TCF included a number of activities, focusing on wearable technology. Speaker Dan Rosenbaum, technology journalist, award-winning writer and wearable tech insider, delivered a keynote on singularity — the compelling hypothesis that artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual control.

Other popular events were the  Raspberry Pi and Arduino tutorials and workshops, as well as the ham radio cram session. This allowed participants to get an amateur radio license in just one day at TCF. A vendor hall with an assortment of tech-related items was also a feature.     Dr. Rebecca Mercuri aims to expand the 3D printing demo, hoping to include new technologies in next year’s festival.

The MakerBot Replicator 2 makes incredible 3D-printed objects. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Festa)
The MakerBot Replicator 2 makes incredible 3D-printed objects. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Festa)

Within a few hours, attendees were able to design and print a small medallion with a design of their choice. The printer used at the demonstration was the MakerBot Replicator 2, which can be purchased online for approximately $1,899. It printed each pocket-sized medallion in under 10 minutes. Examples of 3D-printed objects were on display, including a 3D chess board.

The workshop was very well-attended, attracting tech enthusiasts of all ages from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.  Among the attendees were graduate students, looking for career connections; middle-schoolers, seeking hands-on experience with the revolutionary technology; computer science, engineering and interactive multimedia students from the College, who might wish to make a career out of 3D design and printing and tech aficionados from surrounding towns.

The hosts of the tutorial, Mercuri and Kevin Meredith, were readily available and willing to answer any visitors’ questions or concerns about 3D printing. Mercuri is a digital forensics expert and President of Notable Software, Inc. She conducts forensic computing investigations and provides expert witness testimony on a broad range of criminal, civil and municipal matters.  She has dealt with matters involving child endangerment, malware, hacking, murder, financial fraud and election recounts, notably in the Bush v. Gore election.

Various 3D-printed objects are on display, including figurines. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Festa)
Various 3D-printed objects are on display, including figurines. (Photo courtesy of Jillian Festa)

Meredith, who led the 3D printing project for the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Princeton and Central Jersey Section, is an engineering major at Drexel University. He is an Arduino programmer, designer, electronics experimenter and historian of electronic musical instruments.  His object designs can be found on the Thingiverse 3D printing site.