Maker Profile

Who are you and what do you make?

I describe myself as always looking for opportunities to make an impact. Currently I serve as program manager for the Mississippi State Entrepreneurship Center, and am co-founder of a sports concession service called SportSnax. I like to build MVP web applications for start-ups. Outside of work, I’m very passionate about aviation and love being outdoors. 

What's the favorite thing you've made?

So far, SportSnax is my favorite thing I’ve built. Seeing the whole system in action from baseball fans ordering snacks, paying on their phone and food rushing out to be handed to a fan watching the game – it’s just awesome. Technology has enabled so many things its just amazing to watch how even simple concepts push the needle on something so simple as fan enjoyment at a classic American sport.

What's your go-to Maker skill and/or tool?

Definitely web development using HTML/CSS with PHP/MySQL. That combination allows you to build anything for almost any device with a built-in web browser. Possibilities are limiteless. 

What's been your biggest Making challenge?

Time. There is never enough time in the day to truly dedicate towards making. Between work and family commitments, I don’t get to make near enough. The best thing I have done to combat that is religiously scheduling pieces of my day.

How would you define 'Maker culture'?

I think the maker culture is really about branding an idea that everyone has the capacity to make anything they want if they put their minds to it. I love what the cultural shift has done. It’s awakening people and inspiring them to create.

How is Maker culture transforming your campus?

It’s really awakening possibilities in students who might otherwise have felt things were out of reach for them. Administratively, I’m seeing more people working together to make things happen. We’re seeing more walls being torn down, and I think frankly it’s reenergized a lot of the leadership to focus on providing an even better holistic and practical learning experience. The removal of political barriers is enabling more and more collaboration daily around this idea of coming together to create.

How can Making contribute solutions to big problems?

It’s hard to solve real problems with only talk. Likewise we always antidotal tell aspiring entrepreneurs that if you have an idea, chances are 9 other people have had that same idea. The game is about who executes. Making is a confidence builder too. You can see the satisfaction people get from making that “one thing” they’ve always wanted to make but never knew they could. That mindset alone goes miles in solving the big problems of the world.

What are the challenges facing Making in higher education?

Sustainability and risk aversion. As crazy as it sounds, maker bucks the traditional education framework a bit. That is sometimes tough to adopt, and in terms of adjusting any major and old system it adds challenges to the puzzle. Higher education is in general inherently risk adverse. Other challenges are sustainability of long-term funding. It’s generally easy to motivate donors and sponsors about anything at least once, but long-term Making has to become deeper integrated into the student experience and curriculum.

Why do you think Making is an important 21st century skill for students?

It’s not enough to just have knowledge, there has to be action. The 21st century has given us the most educated population in history and technology gives us access to information unlike ever before. But the problems society faces now need physical, tangible solutions and students need to know how to apply all this knowledge and information to accomplish things.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to Making?

Just do. Planning tends to become a procrastination tactic. Read what you need, plan what you need to plan, and then just execute. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter whether the end result is perfect, the important thing is to get started. My dad used to tell me you can’t improve upon something that doesn’t yet exist.