I began making things the summer before high school. When knee surgery took me away from wrestling, I ended up having a lot of time to fill, and began breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. One project led to another until I was doing projects from all different genres from arts and crafts to metalwork to baking. However my favorite projects generally involve fire or alternative energy in some way. I had to opportunity to work as an Artist in Residence at Instructables during a short term in the summer of 2013 which cemented my interest in making and the maker movement. At the University of Toledo, I am the founder of the University of Toledo Maker Society, a student group devoted to making things, assisting in running the makerspace, and fostering a spirit of creativity, innovation, and community.
I have made a few hand-mounted flamethrowers over the years, and my most recent would have to win out as my favorite project. It is very simple in it’s construction and assembly, yet exciting to play with.
A quality rotary tool has always been my go-to for making nearly anything. There are so many different attachments that it always manages to work its way into a project.
The biggest challenge I experienced in Making, would be support from others. Making different science projects in your spare time wasn’t nearly as common as playing video games in high school, and so in high school I felt a lack of support from friends and family that didn’t share the same interest. I’m very happy with the current shift towards Making taking place.
I think “Maker culture” can be summed up as “the desire to make things for one’s personal enjoyment”. Ultimately, it is about people who love thinking, tinkering with ideas, and solving problems while creating something -anything- that didn’t exist before, wether it is a work of art, or the next great product.
I have, in my opinion, the amazing opportunity to lead Maker culture on campus. As soon as I started UT Maker Society, I was slightly surprised, but also very excited by all of the students who wanted to get involved, learn new skills, and share what skills they had with other students.
Making gets people thinking and working with their hands. When people are used to problem solving for the small issues that arise in a craft project for example, it makes them more able to consider larger problems as well. When more people are able to do this and work together on projects, big problems can be solved.
In my opinion, rigid educational structures - lecture, homework, exam, repeated over and over – is the biggest challenge to Making in higher education. Students are unable to keep up with a rigorous standard education structure while also exploring Making in their free time. Integrating Making into classwork in a way that allows students to explore concepts, rather than be inundated with facts or un-relatable example problems, would help greatly.
In today’s world, technology grows at an incredible rate. If students today are unable to think critically and make things themselves, it is entirely possible that that rate will drop in the future. Further, students need to be able to utilize 21st century digital manufacturing technologies as they become more and more commonplace.
Someone who is new to making can’t be afraid of failure. Nobody new to any skill is great during their first attempt. What’s most important is to learn from your mistakes, be patient, and making something that didn’t quite work is better than not making anything at all.