At Bay Area Maker Faire Adam Savage, of Mythbusters fame, gave his annual Maker talk, affectionately called the Maker sermon. Although it wasn’t his primary talk, for me the thing that stuck out most was his comment on how far the term “Maker” extends. It’s so much more than 3D printers and laser cutters. It’s writing. It’s music. It’s theater. This comment truly resonated with me.
I’ve always felt I was a little different from my fellow engineering students. When I tell others that I enjoy writing I usually get weird stares. My main interests outside of class weren’t always in the machine shop. I was a photographer for the school paper my freshman year. I am a huge fan of theater. My role models are entrepreneurs and creators. I love building things. I love seeing other people make things and the outcomes of their hard work. Adam’s talk made me realize that the core love of all things in my life is creation and making.
Growing up my friends would talk about their newest celebrity crushes and how hot they were. Meanwhile, I had huge talent crushes. These were on people I desperately wanted to be friends with, join in their work, and whose skill, abilities, and creations I truly admired. These people ranged from Tim Russert, famed Meet the Press moderator on NBC, to the Mythbusters, to Robert J. Lang, fantastic origami artist. I literally had printed out pictures of them taped on my bedroom wall, compared to my friend that had a cardboard cutout of Orlando Bloom. (Not that anyone asked, but my current talent crush is Lin Manuel Miranda. Talk about creating something life changing and new. He is a Maker if I ever saw one.)
My hobbies jumped from K’NEX to movie editing to origami at the drop of a hat. Over the summers it drove me crazy to sit on the couch day after day. If you gave me too much time to myself I had to make something. Anything at all. I decimated drawing notebooks. I buried our entertainment center under tape, shish kabob sticks, and paper towel rolls to create Rube Goldberg machines. I edited together very poorly made movies and picture slideshows. (I have fantastic blackmail on so many friends who made the seriously regrettable choice of acting in my movies).
I’ve always said “I am the weird engineer that likes to write.” But no. It makes sense. Making is why I became an engineer. Making is so embedded within me that it extends past, as Adam said, 3D printers and laser cutters. It extends to the arts. To writing. To musical theater. To movie making. It is the act of forming something that never existed before. I am not a weird engineer. I am a normal, purebred to the core Maker.
Though many people fail to see it, engineering, science, and the arts are so closely linked, we should stop dividing them. It is time to promote STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics) over STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). We need to stop taking the ‘A’ out. It shouldn’t be obscured. It needs to be exhibited with pride. Include it. Love it. All the authors, musicians, and directors out there should be claiming the Maker title just as much as the engineer making Arduino enabled glasses or the hobbyist building an R2D2. Words can be crafted just as skillfully as a block of wood.
Value the ‘A’ in STEAM and expand making to bring every person with a love of creation together. Together we will make something better than we ever have before.
On a mission to show the art and creativity in science, technology and engineering.