Andrew is leaving us :-(

We’ve lost one of our original four founding members. Andrew Milne, a grad student in Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Art and Design, and a member of the Vancouver Hackspace (the place where we all first met each other) - is moving to California. Andrew has been a key part of the MakerMobile team up to this point - his ability to relate to youth, perform under pressure and, yes, teach at the same time mean that he is going to be a hard act to follow!


Andrew and Marena in the Bay Area - their new home

I interviewed Andrew a few days ago - here’s the result of our conversation:

Andrew: you’re leaving us … explain where you are going and why!

I am moving down to San Francisco to join my wife who found a job down there. It’s kind of a maker Mecca, so I’m going to find a way to keep teaching down there!

You’ve been part of MakerMobile since the start. Why did you decide to get involved back in deepest winter of 2012/2013?

Well, there’s so much interest in hands-on learning, and the maker community has developed these great new tools for creating, but the community is still small and some people don’t have access to a makerspace. So, a mobile makerspace just seemed like the perfect answer. I also liked that all the other team members had their own unique teaching experience, it seemed like a cool team to join!

Which tools are you referring to?

The stuff that excites me includes electronics and fabrication tools aimed at novices (whether that’s Arduino boards or 3D printers), online learning resources (like Instructables, Youtube or Adafruit), and a bunch of new services and communities that help you make things (hackerspaces, crowdsourcing, sending small orders to factories).

What hopes did you have for the project back then?

I hoped that we could show people that you can start a grassroots maker school. The grants and donations that we’ve received have really helped, but we just started building and teaching right away. I think one of the most important messages of MakerMobile, and the whole maker culture: you don’t need permission, just start and people will join in and support you.

What was the biggest challenge for you?

MakerMobile has made me appreciate the work that school administrators do. It isn’t just teaching, someone has to answer all those emails and schedule classes and build relationships and change the engine oil. Those things take time, and that was a challenge because I’ve been spread a bit thin between different projects.

Describe the research that you’ve been doing for your Master’s Degree. What has your experience with MM contributed to that?

I’ve been asking established makers about their “practice”, not just the specific skills that they use to sculpt or do electronics, but the habits and attitudes that help them get inspired and stay motivated. It’s a research project that really grew out of my experience teaching, and MakerMobile helped me get experience teaching across a really wide range of ages and settings.

The MakerMobile is a much more complete mobile workspace now than it was a year ago. If you weren’t moving away, what would you have liked to have done in that space?

The truck looks so cool now, it’s got the mystique of a “real” makerspace, and we’ve all been in the maker scene for a few years. I would have liked to leverage that street cred to welcome more people into the maker community. I think people who haven’t been to the hackerspace or Maker Faire sometimes don’t feel like “legitimate” makers (even though they totally are), so MakerMobile could be a great way to say “ok, it’s official, you’re a maker. Now go out and help people make things!”

As you observe us from afar, what do you hope to see in the coming year?

I think this first year has been one of building: getting the truck ready, getting some curriculum made, figuring out the business model. I hope next year you can really ramp up the classes!

Any words of advice or motivation for us?

Now is the time! Obama has officially endorsed making and half a million people went to a Maker Faire last year. I think Maker Mobile is in the perfect place to capitalize on that interest and show people what maker culture is all about.

Where can we find someone else like you?

Aww, I’m sure more awesome people will want to join in as they find out about MakerMobile. Maybe it’s time to put a volunteer application up on the website!

Hmmm … good point. If YOU are interested in joining our team as a teacher or helper, please drop us an email describing your interests, experience and goals.

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