Alessandro Volta placed a silver coin on his tongue and one made of tin beneath it... And the modern battery was born! The tiny shock Volta felt two centuries ago would give way to the concept of voltage and allow for the storage of electricity. The unit of measurement for electric potential, the Volt, is named in honor of his tinkering. History commemorates those who tinker and often forgets those who merely theorize. A four-day aerospace and technology festival in Istanbul called "Teknofest" aims to celebrate and inspire those that tinker.
Last week the first of a series of Teknofest events was held in central Turkey under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Technology and rocket maker Roketsan. A first for Turkey, the event was a competition between high school and college teams to design and execute a rocket launch that would reach certain altitudes and return to earth unharmed. A typical elementary school/middle school exercise in the U.S. involves students making model rockets out of used paper towel rolls and small "class ‘B' rocket engines." Playing catch-up, Turkey's youth have just begun to experience rocketry at the high school and college level with this competition. This type of experiment and the general concept of hands-on experimentation is what has been largely missing from the Turkish educational system, until now.
The rocket competition was conducted using off-the-shelf rocket engines from Europe that were imported for use in the competition under a special license. Excessive regulations and a slow-moving bureaucracy in the educational system have made it essential for foundations in Turkey to step up and do their part in helping Turkish students pull alongside their peers abroad, especially in the fields of technology. The Turkish Technology Team Foundation has emerged as the leader in promoting technology in curricula with an emphasis on hands-on experience. The "tinkerer" has long been the source of technological advancement for many centuries and paving the way for those with an interest in the fields of technology is what this foundation has set out to do.
Lead by Chairman Mehmet Fatih Kacir, who also serves as the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry and Technology, the Turkish Technology Team Foundation (T3 Foundation) has put together an incredible schedule of events with its co-host the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality at Istanbul's newest airport from September 20-23. The four-day event will feature airshows, seminars and competitions among students of all ages in various fields of technology.
The spirit of tinkering, of developing an idea and executing that idea is one that many Western societies have embraced and one that many emerging markets didn't emphasize for various reasons, not least of which was lack of resources. Turkey appears to be at a stage now where it can embrace those that will give their all to advance technology and make the world a better place for everyone. Nikola Tesla is perhaps the most renowned example of a scientist known primarily for his constant experimentation and it is this type of tinkerer that will undoubtedly be born out of these efforts. Don't miss Teknofest!