An interview on Making with

Anna Waldman-Brown

Global Maker Consultant, Autodesk & Fab Lab Network

About Anna

Anna works with the Fab Lab network and Autodesk to promote creativity and sustainable development worldwide. She has a BS in Physics and Writing/Humanistic Studies from MIT, and she received a Fulbright fellowship to research grassroots manufacturing at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. She has taught science and engineering in Ghana, Peru, the United States, and Saudi Arabia, and led design thinking workshops in India and Taiwan. She was a co-organizer for the 10th annual Global Fab Lab conference in Barcelona, and is helping organize FAB11 in Boston this August. She’s currently building an eco-village of tiny houses in a parking lot near San Francisco.

What is Making?

Making is the democratization of technology. It empowers us to hack the complex devices that we can’t understand and create our own products.

Who are Makers?

Humans, as a species, have evolved to be expert tool-users— we have dexterous fingers and an innate drive to reconfigure things. The Maker is self-reliant, resourceful, and optimistically ambitious.

Why is Making important?

As we enter the digital manufacturing revolution, we face growing disparities in income, education, and resource consumption. Every year, the United States generates 251 million tons of trash— including 66lbs of electronic waste per person. We’ll have to change our attitudes toward technology since invention alone won’t solve these problems.

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

Using a bunch of electronic waste— the frame of an old desktop computer, iron rails from discarded printers, and one new Arduino board, Afate Gnikou invented the W.Afate 3D printer at WoeLab, the first Fab Lab in Togo in West Africa. His team won first pkace in the Global Fab Awards “With an old thing and a good idea,” says WoeLab manager Dodji Honou, “you can make a solution.”

How is Making transforming education?

Making encourages exploration across disciplines. Education becomes active rather than reactive through the spirit of tinkering and problem-solving, and students get more engaged in education when it has practical relevance to their own lives.

How can Making change my community?

Making is facilitating the mindset shift from “how do I get that” to “how can I make that.” And eventually, hopefully, we will build our own infrastructure through ingenuity rather than waiting for existing systems to accommodate us.

How does Making solve big problems?

I recently joined a call where the founder of Sahara Labs in Morocco mentioned his project for desert herders to track their camels. Naturally, I put them in touch with the Norwegian Fab Lab within the Arctic Circle that’s collaborating with shepherds to fabricate electronic ear-tags for their sheep. With global collaboration and generosity, Makers can solve big problems together.