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Mozilla Festival 2019_October 2019

Mozilla Festival 2019_October 2019

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MozFest 2019 (Mozilla Festival) took place over three days, Friday 25th to Sunday 27th October. It was my second MozFest and I was especially excited because this time I was attending as a facilitator running a workshop session.

Two years ago when I first attended MozFest at Ravensbourne University I got to see loads of awesome projects. I was inspired to come back and contribute to the MozFest experience by running a session. Being that it was my first time as a MozFest facilitator, I wanted to run a workshop that I had not attempted before. Can you guess what it was? It was a soldering workshop! I was over the moon when I heard that my idea had been accepted!

I felt very welcomed and comfortable while moving around at MozFest, which empowered me to keep a positive mood and mindset throughout the whole experience, especially when I was running my workshop. The Festival has always been a great experience and a nice event to go to, annually uniting the tech community from far and near. This year was really special as it was the MozFest 10th anniversary!

Early this year I jointly developed my own PCB (printed circuit board) and decided to create a soldering workshop around it. My PCB was essentially a proximity alarm designed to look like the head of a robot. How it worked: When you approach the IR emitter and receiver, reaching a certain distance, two LEDs and a buzzer would be triggered. Most people compared it to an intruder alarm and I agree with that, as it shares the same concepts.

The design process of the board was quite a challenge for me. I learned a lot along the way! I started by prototyping on a breadboard. After much trial and error, some failures and loads of adjustments to the schematic, I finally got the proximity alarm sensor to work. I then designed the look of my PCB, placing the different electronics components (2 IR sensors, 2 LEDs, 1 IC, 1 switch, 1 buzzer, 4 resistors, and a potentiometer) to form the facial features of the robot. This part was not easy as I had to change my drawings many times to get everything to fit onto the board in a way that resembled the face of a robot. A friend helped with the PCB design software side of things. We worked collaboratively and my mum and I provided him with the spec of all the components, a schematic and a final drawing of the robot head. It was so awesome to have created my very own board that could be used to help others experience the thrill of soldering.

Friday, October 25th – All Hands on deck – This was a preparation day. All the Youth Zone organisers, facilitators, and volunteers gathered at Ravensbourne University for the final preparation prior to the event. It was an opportunity for everyone to meet, to ask questions, to familiarise themselves with the space and to help set up the various rooms. It was also nice to see many friends and I had the opportunity to make new ones.

Because I had been to MozFest before, it was easy to find my bearings and I was soon making my way around the university with ease. In my mind, I kept saying, “This space is great”. Unfortunately, this year was the last MozFest in the UK! I hope next year’s venue will be as good as Ravensbourne University. I learned some interesting new things about Mozilla projects, more about who they are, their mission and objectives as well as their aspirations for the future around internet safety and AI.

The room I was based in was on the 9th floor (top floor), the prototyping room. The setting was so cool, there was a range of different machinery installed: laser cutters; 3D printers; woodcutting machinery and much more. It really was a great location for my workshop. I almost forgot to mention that we all made our own posters to promote the workshops that we were going to run. We had loads of fun making the posters, as it was a chance to switch on everyone’s creativity.

Saturday the 26th of October. The second day of MozFest. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it, but I heard about some of the workshops that people were running. I am sure that all of the attendees on Saturday enjoyed everything that they saw and participated in. For those who also were there on Saturday, I’m sure they had a fun experience, as it was the first proper day to interact with the public.

On the Sunday I was greeted by a friend called Aoibheann, who I had met at the FDM awards earlier this year (we were both finalists). Aoibheann was part of the organisational team for the Youth Zone at MosFest and was also running a workshop, where you would grab a colour changing LED and a coin battery, then place them onto a cool space themed acrylic black holder, which you could attach to your MozFest lanyard to jazz it up a little. Believe it or not, I bumped into Grace, Femi and his little brother Alex, Mike, which I am sure if you have gone to tech events you’ll know who they are. They actually, along with Aoibheann, managed to make it to my soldering workshop, and were all very successful at getting their PCB to work!

I ran two separate workshops on the day and about 25 attendees successfully completed the proximity alarm and each participant was able to take a fully assembled unit home with them. I thought it would be a nice touch to allow them to keep the fruits of their labour! My first session was at 12:45, finishing at 13:45. An hour before the start of the workshop, I went to the prototyping room and started to prepare the soldering irons at the different workstations and organised the different electronic components for the participants to solder.

When 12:45 arrived, we already had people lining up outside the door, which was great to see. I first talked everyone through the safety instructions, and how the end product would look and function. Then we started soldering! As a pointer in the right direction, I showed them how to apply the solder to the pads and the component leads, and straight away every one was very eager to get started. Every now and then I could see the participants smiling when they had successfully soldered a component. Some people had to wait for their turn. Nonetheless, they were able to use this time to observe what the others were doing and the techniques they used, which helped them to have a better understanding of what they would be doing. I was really happy that the first session went very well and it motivated me even more for the second one. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Leslie Sarango, who won the FDM 2019 “One to Watch” award also attended the workshop. It was a pleasure catching up with her while she worked her way through the soldering experience.

For session number two (14:15 to 15:15), I took on board what I had learnt from the first workshop and used it constructively to improve the delivery. Surprisingly, I realised that at the session, the young ones were quicker than the adults! Go team youth! I am proud to say that everyone’s PCB worked, which is a huge plus for them and me, whilst they were also able to explain to their parents what they had accomplished. From the positive outcome from both workshops, I’m encouraged to maybe run another soldering workshop in the future. 

Running the soldering workshop was definitely a great experience for me, and I just want to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers – Dave, Sam, Dan, and my dad Phil who offered to help out, they all really played a key part in the success of the workshop.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at MozFest as a facilitator. I got to experience different aspects of the event in general but I was particularly impressed with how friendly, energised and amazingly helpful everyone in the Youth Zone team was.
At the very end of the day, there was a big gathering of all the Youth Zone team, where we got together to take a photo and eat pizzas!

I definitely want to contribute to another Mozilla Festival in the future!


Hi, my name is Avye and I love making, coding, designing, exploring new technology and swimming! This site is about the things I get to experience, discover and enjoy. Welcome to my world!

2 comments so far

Carrol May NelsonPosted on10:30 am - Nov 4, 2019

Many Congratulations Avye on your awesome achievements.
Sending you beautiful blessings for continous success with your Coding.
May you go unto do greater things in Life.

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