A Family of Makers

Jenny Young of Brooklyn Robot Foundry

Welcome to this week’s Make Things newsletter for the Maker community. This newsletter lives on the web at makethings.make.co.

Kids talk about what they’ve made at Brooklyn Robot Factory

Table of Contents

You are fortunate indeed if you grew up in a family that makes things, as was Jenny Young, a mechanical enginneer who got her degree from Purdue and went on to found Brooklyn Robot Foundry. She’s my guest on the current episode of Make:cast.

“I grew up in a way that I now recognize is a little bit unique. Both of my parents are makers,” Jenny told me. Her father was a mechanical engineer with a machine shop in the basement at home. Her mother was good with her hands, and just liked to create things. “We were always just taking things apart and putting them back together.”

When she went to Purdue, she worked in the machine shop where she was working with other engineering students who had great grades but didn’t learn to work with their hands. She said it was the first time she realized “that the way I was raised actually made into a really great maker… I’m used to using my hands and producing things.”

She recalled discussions at the dinner table. “My whole family makes things. My brother is a toy designer. So when we were sitting at the dining room table at our family dinner, people would talk about what did you make today? And then what failed and we would all laugh at each other and maybe we'd make fun of each other a little bit, but it was always just this very open conversation about failure.”

Not all of us grow up in that kind of family. I didn’t. However, efforts like Brooklyn Robot Foundry can help provide more people with positive experiences around making. It isn’t just being able to do things, but it’s being able to talk with other people about what you’ve been doing, like Jenny was able to do at the family dinner table. For some, a makerspace can be like having a family of makers.

The Story of Brooklyn Robot Foundry

You can find my podcast episode (and transcript) with Jenny Young on Makezine on how she’s developed her business. Here’s a video of our conversation, especially for subscribers to this newsletter.

Call for Cool Wearable Projects

Author Kate Hartman is working on the second edition of Make: Wearable Electronics. The first edition was published in 2014, and she hopes to cover the amazing work and new tools have been developed in the last decade. She needs your help to be able to share the depth and breadth of projects coming out of the wearables community!

We are looking for images of wearable electronics, e-textiles, and body-based electronics projects to be included in the second edition! The second edition will include end-of-chapter Galleries that feature the work of people like you! We are open to projects from people in all fields -- from cosplayers to academics, hobbyists to costume designers -- and would love to include process images and sketches along with photos of the final work. This is a book about learning how to make new things and as such, we're keen to highlight the work of emerging makers! Further, work from practitioners from groups that are underrepresented in technology and making communities is encouraged.

Selected images will appear in print, digital, and translated editions of the book. If your image is selected, you will receive a follow up email with instructions on how to submit your Image Permissions form. If you have any questions, please email: [email protected].

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at 11:59 pm EDT. Submit your images here: https://forms.gle/SFwdaiPbD1CXu69H6

Mini Manuals

Last week, I wrote about my visit to the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. I meant to mention that many of the projects had projects short manuals for the products they were demonstrating.

I got my start writing computer manuals so I have a certain fondness for documentation, particularly in written form. However, I think it’s a great idea to have students produce documentation for their products. It’s also an inexpensive and tangible takeaway.

AI For Makers

For the magazine and Maker Faire, we’re looking for maker projects that use AI for fun or profit. If you have a project to share, email me - [email protected].

Virtual Town Hall for Maker Faire Bay Area

The Call for Makers for Maker Faire Bay Area is open. Over the years, we’ve organized town hall meetings to check in with makers, welcome new makers and answer questions.

This Wednesday, we will host our virtual town hall for makers. If you are considering coming to Maker Faire Bay Area in October and have questions about participating, please attend this online town hall. We’d particularly like to welcome those who might be exhibiting for the first time. I will be there along with the Maker Faire team and we’d love to have you join us.

What: Maker Faire Town Hall - Virtual on Zoom|
When: May 29, 2024 06:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada) 

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