Maker Profile

Who are you and what do you make?

I’ve been told that I have far too many hobbies, and most of them involve making. In the last year I’ve built (or helped to build) some furniture, a few pieces of laboratory equipment, several trebuchets of various sizes, and a portable solar power generator. I enjoy learning new skills, learning how to use new tools and hardware, and working with others to help them develop their own projects.

What's the favorite thing you've made?

The favorite thing I’ve made is actually “the favorite think I’ve fixed”. That would be the ’74 Land Cruiser that I inherited a few years ago. It was inoperable when I brought it home, but after ~3 years of intermittent work, including the installation of a new fuel system and radiator, and rebuilding the carburetor and water pump, it ran. I hope to one day completely restore it, and expect that project to keep me occupied for years.

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

I would say either a laser cutter or a hot glue gun. The laser cutter is extremely versatile, fast, and very easy to use. For those reasons it is well suited to the work I do with my students. I could say the same things about the glue gun, which is great for rapidly assembling projects.

What's been your biggest Making challenge?

I’m currently building a 2500 W spotlight, which requires knowledge of electronics that I don’t possess. So, I’ve been moving pretty slowly, checking my work and not cutting corners. I think that the system is in good shapes, but I have yet to turn it on…hopefully I don’t let the smoke out.

How would you define 'Maker culture'?

The enjoyment of making for whatever reason, and the desire to continue learning.

How is Maker culture transforming your campus?

I think that the Maker culture is helping to make it socially acceptable to spend free time working on projects as an alternative to other options (e.g. “partying” in someone’s basement). The Maker culture is also very supportive of individual curiosity and self-improvement.

How can Making contribute solutions to big problems?

I think that Making helps people develop the skills that they need, both technical and non-technical (like confidence), to tackle really challenging problems.

What are the challenges facing Making in higher education?

Student: “Look at all of this cool stuff I’ve made. I didn’t learn any of this in class, so why should I continue going?”

Faculty: “Students waste a lot of time making “widgets” for fun when they should be studying for their courses”.

The challenge lies in finding a way to use Making to enhance the curriculum and provide additional value to students.

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

Because we’re dependent on technology. We need people who have the skills and drive to innovate and invent the technologies of the future.

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

Make things that you would like to tell others about. The story behind the project is one of its most interesting attributes.