Garages and kitchens, what do they have in common? If you have ever shared a garage or a kitchen, you know, we often use these areas to create. I’d like to help all of us understand how each of these common rooms in a house can be a way to bring our country out of a dull, lackluster, boring, slow growth economy. Nope, I am not talking about cooking shows, or building monster cars. I am talking about laboratories for Makers, we have millions of these in our homes. We are a country of Makers.
In his weekly address to the nation, President Barack Obama called on Americans to invest in the manufacturing industry, calling it a necessary step for spurring job creation and economic growth. The President announced a $500m Advanced Manufacturing partnership with industry, government and academia. The partnership has a broader mission than to create jobs. “It’s to renew the promise of American manufacturing,” he said. “To help make sure America remains in this century what we were in the last – a country that makes things. A country that out-builds and out-innovates the rest of the world.” Just checking, did you all know we have an Advanced Manufacturing Center at NMSU? It is a fully operational manufacturing facility within the College of Engineering that pairs full-time staff, often with experience in engineering fields, with students in various disciplines at NMSU, and members of the community.
The President called us a country of Makers and innovators. So why am I capitalizing the word Makers? Because, Makers are people being characterized as entrepreneurs who want to restore America’s ability to make stuff. And they are making things in their garages, kitchens and bedrooms, depending on the good graces of mom’s and dads, friends, and bosses who are willing to share their spaces with people who want to make things.
The President has discovered what many of us know, we are itching to get out from behind the computer. We want to do, to create. Enough of PowerPoint slide presentations of some obscure vision by the folks spending someone else’s money. We have to build it ourselves, make it tangible, constructive. And, let’s make things that help others make things. Like anything else, start small, grow and build. So that’s what we am doing with the students now, starting small, with lots of simple projects, that are doing what? Putting student’s minds, hands, and projects into space.
I know you have heard how tough the space business is, how expensive it is to get to space, how only the very smart or the very rich can make it. And there is no reason to go to space. The same argument was made when we began the railroad industry, the automobile and aviation industries. Who needs to go to Omaha on the railroad from California? What the heck do we need cars for, horses don’t break down in the mud, and only the rich can afford to fly from Europe to America in under fifteen hours?
Here’s where the garages, kitchens, come in. So many inventors say their parents turned space over to them in the garage, or yes, the kitchen. The woman who invented SPANX has a great story to tell about how she used her living room to get started. Think about the CupCake craze, it started in the kitchen. Kitchens and garages are America’s incubator laboratories.
I mentioned in my last article that I spoke to the TorC School Board a week after our launch of twenty seven experiments to space. Before my presentation, I asked Stacey Coulter the Physics teacher with the Student Launch Program to let me see her lab at Hot Springs High School. I saw the lab the first year after the school was built, before we started going to space. Now, I wanted to see how the lab has changed after three years of building space hardware. I will share with you what I saw. A lab table dedicated to making electronics, with an anti-static matt, soldering iron, magnification lamp, lots of testing equipment, safety equipment, and new storage area for books on space, rocketry and other research materials. Ms Coulter is teaching a new class that starts at 7:30 am, before school because students want to lab to themselves for an hour.
Make is a place to learn more about Makers, their tool sheds, garages, backyards, and basements all across the planet, that uncovers the Ben Franklins and Thomas Edisons of tomorrow. We are growing those Makers here in New Mexico.