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Erie County Fair: New 'I-Hub' to promote innovation, imagination, ingenuity


Thu, Jul 19th 2018 10:40 am
STEM-based exhibits will focus on Western New York's growing tech economy
The 179th Erie County Fair will see the debut of a newly created exhibit area with the goal of exciting Western New Yorker's about technology, engineering and the sciences. "I-Hub at the Fair," with the "I" standing for "innovation, imagination & ingenuity," will be located inside the fair's Showplace Building. The display will focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) businesses and education through daily demonstrations, interactive displays and hands-on activities.
"Fairs have acted as public stages for innovation since their inception," Erie County CEO/Manager Jessica Underberg said. "Whether it was new steam-powered farm implements in the 1870s, automobiles in the 1910s or the introduction of television in the late 1940s, the Erie County Fair allowed Western New Yorkers to experience new technology up-close and in person."
One of the key goals behind the creation of the "I-Hub at the Fair" is to stimulate interest in the sciences amongst fairgoers and to encourage them to consider careers in areas that are driving the region's economy. To accomplish this, the Erie County Fair has partnered with some of Western New York's leading companies and organizations currently leading the charge, including the Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance, National Grid, WNY Stem Hub, EagleHawk, Staub Precision Machine, Praxair, SomaDetect, University at Buffalo GEM (Genome, Environment & Microbiome), UB Society for Automotive Engineers, Girl Scouts of Western New York, UB NanoSat, The Buffalo Manufacturing Works, The New York Power Authority, FIRST Robotics and the Northland Workforce Training Center.
At the center of the "I-Hub at the Fair" experience will be the STEM Museum produced by Mobile Ed Productions. A portion of the Showplace Building will be turned into a state-of-the-art, hands-on children's museum focused on STEM education. Fairgoers will be encouraged to explore, at their own pace, a variety of stations that will include 3-D printing, parabolic arch building and the ability to turn kinetic energy into electricity.
Outside of the main "I-Hub" exhibit area, fair patrons will be able to discover technology and innovation found throughout the venue. A "passport" stamp program will lead participants to the fair's 4-H Youth Development Building and the Agriculture Discovery Center among other fair sites to experience STEM in action. One of the "passport stamp" stops will be located at Jim's French Fries concession, where people will be able to interact with the world's first, practical-use "ketchup dispensing robot." More than 300 hours of Western New York-born engineering and computer programming have been invested into this unique mechanism built by Hamburg's Staub Precision Machine. The machine is meant to symbolize and represent "homegrown" ingenuity.
"The 'I-Hub' represents the future of our industry. In an ever-increasing virtual world, fairs continue to be a place where the community experiences life first-hand," Marketing Manager Marty Biniasz said. "From the raising of champion livestock to inventions being created in our backyards, fairs celebrate and let people interact with the best of human accomplishments."
The 179th Erie County Fair will be held Aug. 8-19. Visit www.ECFair.org.

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