It all started with the opportunity to research equipment and programs to help get a makerspace up and running for EPICentre at the University of Windsor. One of the main goals was to make sure we have equipment that students would want to use, to get their hands dirty, and to make anything; whether it was for a hobby, for a class project, or for a prototype to start a business. That was the easy part. The hard part was not getting hooked on the excitement of “making” itself!
I am never known to be the handy type. Sure, I am a problem solver. Throughout my career, I have always been creative and adaptable. Problem with your computer at work? Need a simple database developed? Not sure what you need exactly to fix what you don’t know is wrong? Need to build a gas analysis laboratory in a jiffy? Those are all in a day’s work. But the running joke at home is I am a joke at art and design, and an even bigger joke at using tools. But when the EPIC Makers’ Base (awesome name for the makerspace, by the way, EPICentre staff!) purchased a brand-new Epilog Mini laser cutter and engraver and I was shown how easy it was to use the day it was delivered, I knew all that would change. I would be my 2-year old son’s Toymaker Dad!
Having zero experience with design software like Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw, the laser cutter sounded very intimidating in the beginning. Not to mention the word LASER. But with a half-day AI tutorial from Ashhar Ahmed, the Makerspace Lead, and some experiments to boot, I was as confident as I could be. Now without a lick of artistic creativity, and without the need to touch a hammer or a screwdriver, I have (and I can proudly say PERSONALLY), designed and made a car, a school bus, an ice cream truck, and a see-saw (yes, it does move up and down like those “modern”see-saws) for my son – all using plywood. He loves “decorating” them using a highlighters.
I am not done yet. Like I said, it is like eating hot pepper – I want to keep doing it. Every day, I have new ideas of what to make. My son has been asking me to make him other things. Things he sees on a farm (a tractor), at a park (a merry-go-round), at a carnival (a Ferris wheel). The list goes on and on. With what is available at the Makers’ Base, all I needed was time (oh, where can I find the time?) and money to pay for the materials I use. How can I not be hooked?<
Maybe one of these days, I will make something for my wife and stop the running joke at home, eh?