Why Is There a Velociraptor on the White House Lawn?
By Colin McEvoy on June 22, 2015
Earlier this month, a velociraptor was turned loose on the White House lawn.
No, it was not a national security threat, and no, it wasn’t a plotline from the new Jurassic World film. Rather, it was the result of a Lehigh Valley entrepreneur visiting Washington D.C. as part of the White House’s celebration of a “Week of Making.”
Lisa Glover, creator of KitRex, a flat-packed kit letting customers build their own cardboard dinosaurs, traveled to the nation’s capital to participate in the White House Maker Faire. The event is part of President Barack Obama’s call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.”
Glover operated a booth at the Faire, where she sold KitRex products and spread the word about her company, Architrep. Meanwhile, one of her signature creations – a 15-foot velociraptor costume – was captured on film by official White House photographers on the front lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It’s really awesome to see that the maker movement is something that’s supported on a national level,” Glover said. “It was exciting to hear about different ways communities are creating and supporting the maker movement and how it’s getting into schools more. I think it’s really going to be good for communities and people.”
Glover, 24, created her first dinosaur costume for her master’s-level Technical Entrepreneurship course. With urging from her professors, and support from local resources like Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation, the Ben Franklin TechVentures, and the Allentown Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, KitRex has blossomed into a full-blown company.
Glover launched a Kickstarter campaign last year to raise funds to make a flat-packed kit letting customers build their own 3-foot-long velociraptor. Her goal was to raise $8,000, but the campaign went viral and she ended up raising more than $110,000. More recently, she started a second Kickstarter to launch a new pterodactyl kit, and once again exceeded her $10,000 goal.
The White House Maker Faire was held June 12 and 13, and the Week of Making ran from June 12 to 18. According to the White House, maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.
Glover signed up to participate in the Maker Faire, but the idea of photographing her velociraptor on the White House lawn came from the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, which approached her with the request.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Glover said.
The KitRex is an example of industrial origami, which applies the principles of origami to manufacturing, and is typically used for practical items like cabinets or furniture. Glover took advantage of those resources along every step of the process leading up to Architrep’s founding.
After finishing first place in the Baker Institute’s EUREKA! Ventures Competition Series, Glover won a small space at Ben Franklin TechVentures, a Bethlehem business incubator, where she started laying the groundwork for Architrep. She also made use of the laser-cutter at Bethlehem’s Fab Lab, which is associated with Northampton Community College. Glover’s business continued to grow, and last month she moved into a larger space at Bridgeworks, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s incubator.
Glover was joined in her White House Maker Faire booth by Make Lehigh Valley, a community of people from the region who enjoy making things. That organization, like KitRex, is based in the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. Glover was also joined by a student who will participate in Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship program next year.
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