[Editor’s note: As written for Johnson County Library’s Spring 2016 print publication]
Like many kids growing up, Aaron Attebery’s imagination found an outlet in Legos. Unlike a lot of kids, the Kingdom City, Mo., native also built his own go-kart using the family welder.
The unstructured time spent building in his early years led to more formal explorations of the mechanics making up the world. The non-profit Technology Student Association exposed him to like-minded individuals in high school. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering soon followed. He now plies a successful trade as a solutions engineer at Kansas City-based Black & Veatch.
Aaron’s story illustrates a new approach to incubating the problem solvers of tomorrow. STEAM – that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – education initiatives have been reinvigorated and take a top-down policy approach to creating the skilled workforce today’s economy demands.
The Maker movement, meanwhile, has taken firm root in garages and workshops across the country and been catalyzed by the crowdsourcing power of the internet. Self-taught tinkerers of all ages learn by experimentation, enthusiastically sharing their successes and failures with the larger community. Innovation bubbles from the ground up.
These two approaches collide beautifully in the middle at spaces popping up across Kansas City. They go by different names – MakerSpaces, FabLabs, etc. – but share the same principle: Give the community the fundamentals and loose structure inspired by academia infused with the thrill of experimentation and diving headfirst into a problem with only your wits and curiosity.
Imagine downloading and printing a 3D model in less time than it takes to visit the local hardware store. Or cutting through dense woods like walnut with a focused beam of light. The instant gratification of making something rivals that of any aced test. Unrestrained access to new technologies changes the dynamics for students in particular.
“Having instant access to information makes young people such agile and quick thinkers,” says Aaron. “Giving them more channels to express that adaptability is really going to shape our future.”
With the renovated Central Resource Library now open for business, our community again has access to a host of tools and programs for makers of all ages and interests. All are available with nothing more than a Johnson County Library card. Waiting for you at the new Black & Veatch MakerSpace are 3D printers, a media recording suite and so much more. We can’t wait to see you there.