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HUNTINGTON — Due to COVID-19, the West Virginia Makes Festival will be done differently this year.

The Robert C. Byrd Institute’s (RCBI) annual statewide celebration of ingenuity and creativity returns for a seventh year with a month of virtual making that features a Design Challenge and weekly Master Maker classes and events.

“At RCBI, we witness the creativity and ingenuity of West Virginians every day,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “Our Design Challenge is a way for us to honor and recognize the talents of these makers.”

Design Challenge competitors must create unique inventions that display innovation or overcome a specific challenge then explain their creations and the making process in a video that is three minutes or less, according to Weber.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, Oct. 20, and winners will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 27, during a live online event at

Makers of all ages are eligible for several prizes that include technical assistance from RCBI, cash awards and a desktop 3D printer. There is no cost to enter.

Maker Monday events kick off Monday, Oct. 12 with Heritage Farm Museum & Village’s “Living the Maker Life!”

“Join the live online event to learn about and see the types of making that are underway at the farm, explore how things were made in the mid-19th century and gain an understanding of the resourcefulness of Appalachian makers over the years,” Weber said.

After that event there is the Master Maker Class 2D Design & Laser Cutting: Thinking Outside the Box on Monday, Oct. 19.

“Learn to use free, open-source software to create digital designs and turn them into laser-cut creations,” Weber said.

She said the class also will include an overview of engineering-level design software, processes and equipment.

Each participant will have the chance to create a custom design that will be laser cut at RCBI for them to keep. The cost is $25 per person.

Monday, Oct. 26, features the event “Toyota: Artificial Intelligence and the Frontiers of Manufacturing with AI.” Participants learn how Toyota uses AI and other emerging technologies to change the face of manufacturing in the United States, Weber said.

To register for the Design Challenge or any of the maker classes and events, visit For more information contact RCBI’s Deacon Stone at or 304-781-1659.

Weber added that the West Virginia Makes Festival is made possible through the support of sponsors Edward Tucker Architects, the Marshall University Research Corporation and the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.

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