An interview on Making with

Rory Cooper

Director of Human Engineering Research Laboratories, University of Pittsburgh

About Rory

Rory A. Cooper, Ph.D. is FISA Foundation & Paralyzed Veterans of America Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored 300 journal publications; has 15 patents awarded or pending; and is the author of two books: "Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility & Manipulation” and “Wheelchair Selection & Configuration”, and co-editor of “Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering”, “Warrior Transition Leader: Medical Rehabilitation Handbook”, and “Care of the Combat Amputee”. He was recognized in the U.S. Congressional Record on Monday, July 27, 2009. In August 2010, his work in robotics to aid people with disabilities was featured in Popular Science. In September 2014, PN Magazine recognized Dr. Cooper as having transformed the lives of people with spinal cord injury.

What is Making?

Making is creating some from a concept and taking it to something tangible.

Who are Makers?

Makers are inventors, engineering, scientists, artists, and various creative people.

Why is Making important?

Making is important as it fuels progress and spurs creativity.

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

In my own works, Making has transformed that wheelchair that I use now to being less than 20 pounds and to look like a high-tech machine, rather than the 80 pound clunker that I started using.

How is Making transforming education?

Making is bringing back transforming thought and concepts into reality. Making allows students to hold and test “things” in a real and tangible way that had been nearly lost.

How can Making change my community?

Making is changing my community by providing opportunities to more people to pursue their dreams of creating new products and devices. Making is becoming more democratic by reducing the dependence on large factories and bringing invention and production back to the local level, while at the same time providing opportunities to global collaboration.

How does Making solve big problems?

Making solves big problems by bringing more people together to contribute, and by dramatically reducing the time between design iterations.