(This blog post originally appeared at daytontechguide.com on August 28, 2017).
Image credit: Dayton Tech Guide
When Wright Brothers Institute opened its doors at 444–the new collaborative innovation hub located at 444 E Second St in downtown Dayton– it re-focused its efforts to energize world-class R&D collaborations and technology innovation between the Air Force Research Labs and the community. Last Friday the WBI team launched a new speaker series that does just that. The series, 4th Friday at 444, pairs a speaker from “inside the fence” with one from “outside the fence” to discuss a specific topic.
Friday’s event paired Isaac Weintraub, an electrical engineer from AFRL, with Tom Mitchell, the Operations Manager at Proto BuildBar (one of our favorite places to grab coffee and get some work done). The two Makers shared their advice on the topic of Getting Your Hands Dirty.
Here’s our paraphrased recap of what they said:
Making = learning.
Eventually you need something tangible if you want to sell someone on your idea, and it’s not easy to go from your napkin sketch or simulation to physical representation of that item. Isaac shared that, “No matter what your simulation is showing, the real world just finds another way to make it worse. Nature always finds another way.” When you start turning your concept into a product and you build it yourself, you learn all of the quirks in the manufacturing, the packaging needs, and how to maintain it.
“You learn by building and breaking and failing. And then building and breaking and failing,” said Isaac. “And that is the process that it takes to go from a basic concept or idea to something tangible or something wonderful.”
Go back to your childhood. You learned because you were curious. Tom shared that staying curious is the first step to Making and that Making can be anything. As an introvert, he has learned to engage with people easily because of his curiosity.
Isaac and Tom share a love for the sound of stepper motors. During a passing conversation, one suggested that someone should play music using them. So Isaac’s curiosity led him to turn the tone of a music note into the speed and duration of a stepper motor–which led him to play the Imperial March on a 3D printer. (Here’s a video on how that works. You’re welcome.)
From the time we’re young we’re taught that failing is bad. But Tom shared that failure is good because it teaches us lessons. Isaac shared the biggest thing he’s ever built and what he considers as his biggest failure: a truck sitting in his garage that still doesn’t work. But as Isaac shared, he learned a lot. He went from being uncomfortable changing his own oil to taking an engine out of the truck, running hydraulic and gas lines, and understanding why and how a fuel injection system works.
A challenge to the community.
Isaac shared a fun challenge for all of the Makers in town–to build a bowling ball-sized version of skee-ball. If that sounds like your cup of tea, connect with him on LinkedIn. And if you’re interested in becoming a Maker or just plugging in to the Maker community, connecting with Tom and visiting Proto BuildBar is a great place to start!
Want more than just the recap? Check out AFRL’s live stream of the event!
Thank you to John Owen and Tiffany Ferrell for recapping their experience and sharing their inputs with the community! Be sure to check out their calendar of events to see all the ways you can connect to businesses and entrepreneurs in the Dayton region.