Geekspace would like to introduce our new segment, Meet The Maker. Every month we’ll have a member interview another member, or perhaps a group working on a special project. This month we are talking about Robert, a key mentor on the Ignite Robotics Team and very active member at the space. He is being interviewed by Hina, one of our board members. Please enjoy, and let us know if you have any question ideas or requests for this segment!

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Hina: Tell me about yourself.

Robert: I am a dad of 2 great kids (ages 18 and 16) that are geeks at heart. I have been married to my wife Jean who I met back in high school when I went to a 6 week summer program for math. That’s where I was first introduced to computers and right away I knew what I wanted to do. I later got my degree in computer science from GA Tech.

Hina: Tell me about your maker moment–when did you realize you are a maker?

Robert: I can’t say that I’ve had one big maker moment, but I have had a lot of little ones where I took a look at something and thought if I do this or change that I could make it work better. All of those neat experiences in the moment add up to something awesome.

Hina: Tell me how you utilize the space. What projects or activities do you engage in while you are here?

Robert: I attend classes here. For example, my kids and I came to Emily’s worbla class that was really fun. We also attended the computer security class and learned some cool stuff. We use the space to support the Ignite Robotics Team. Geekspace Gwinnett provides a nice safe space with tools to get together and hammer out some ideas with the team.

Hina: Tell me about a project; what’s in the works?

Robert: Currently I am helping the Ignite Robotics team work on a sensor board project. We’re making something colorful, attractive and interactive that will call out to people’s dormant inner geek that they might not even know they have. This is an exciting time because not only do I get to be around where making is going on but I also get to nurture students and help them get infected with the making bug. I get to help them tweak and hone those skills.

Hina: Tell me about your contribution to Geekspace. What have you helped bring into being?

Robert: I love to help as much as time will allow; for example, I helped build the shelves in the Geekspace’s wood shop. Also I had a great time building the clock during the Build-Off. I helped facilitate and supervise Teen Tuesday. Not only do I like doing these types of things, I also love it because the people here are really cool to do these things with!

Hina: Tell me why you became a member of Geekspace.

Robert: My wife saw the article in the Gwinnett Daily Post, the one that’s pinned on the wall in the front room. We talked about it with our friend and (and Geekspace member) Brian and decided to come down here to check it out. The space and people are really cool and we had a good time getting to know them, so we decided to go for it. Being around other geeks with different skill sets still is a really amazing experience. Also, at the time, 3D printing and working with a CNC were still really new so we decided to take the opportunity to be around people who know how to work and use all those skills which is great while, adding what I know to the pool.

Hina: How has the space helped in your journey as a maker?

Robert: Oh that’s easy! Seeing what other people are doing and are inspired by always gets new ideas flowing. Thinking, “Oh dude, you can do that? I hadn’t even thought of that!” It’s such a great feeling! For example, just the other day I found out that Brian Carlson was hosting a meet to talk about utilizing the technology to assist visually impaired people. This could be something really easy for us to do since we have so many people with different talents in here. This could accomplish two things. Number one, and most importantly, we could make someone’s life better–even if just a little bit, but hopefully a lot. Number two: by following through on that idea we could possibly make it easier for us to do more things like that. Just like Bruce Comstock’s catapults have done for us.

Hina: What advice would you give to future makers or GG member prospects?

Robert: There are several of them. The most important one is: you can do this. Yes, you! A lot of products you buy nowadays tend to be closed and not able to be tinkered with, discouraging you to adapt it for your needs or make it better for you. But never forget, you could be the one who does that.

Secondly, makers come in all types. Some people like cosplay, some like robotics, some electronics, some fabrication, 3D printing, etc. We have those people here who are more than happy to help you with whatever you are trying to do or make.

Finally, it’s a good thing to surround yourself with people like the people here–people who can do stuff that you can’t do yet, but are happy to show you how to do it too. I want to say people with a similar mindset” but that’s not exactly it. We all enjoy learning and doing and making. And if you are one of us or a prospective one of us, you probably enjoy doing that too. So if you like doing that and if you like to be around people who challenge you and extend you then you should be here.