I've been involved in engineering, design, and product development for most of my life.
I enrolled at Virginia Tech with the intention of becoming an engineer but realized (after two years!) that I wanted to work with young people and that's when I discovered the major of Technology Education which allowed me to combine my interests in engineering and design with youth development.
In order to be a great teacher of Engineering, Design, and Technology, I believe it's important to be active in (doing) Engineering, Design, and Technology.
Click on the link below to view some of my Engineering, Design, and Technology projects I've worked on which include:
- Flexographic Plate Washout Unit
- Metal Bracket for Team Building Product
- Team Labyrinth game
- Near Space Helium Balloon
- Human Powered Trebuchet
- Backyard Play Structure
Flexographic Plate Washout Unit
While studying Technology Education at Virginia Tech I designed and created a unique low-cost piece of lab equipment called a "Flexographic Plate Washout Unit". The aparatus was used by Dr. Mark Sanders and his students in his graphic arts lab for several years. The President of a major flexographic plate manufacturing company referred to the unit as "ingenious". Flexography is a printing process and you can learn more about it HERE.
The Team Timbers are a portable, multi-use teambuilding game system ("low ropes course") I invented and to make it all possible I had to create a unique metal bracket. I licensed the Team Timbers to Flaghouse.com where it is now sold to PE teachers around the country who use it to teach teamwork and leadership skills to students in elementary, middle, and high school.
The first bracket design (photo below) was built to show proof of concept. The initial bracket design was too difficult to manufacture easily and inexpensively due to the welding procedures so I worked with the company (located in China) manufacturing the bracket to understand their manufacturing limitations and then, after several iterations, completed a final design (photo below to the far right). The final design requires no welding and can be easily fitted to boards of varying thicknesses. Because the Team Timbers are assembled in the US, Australia, and Europe, that dimensions of the wooden boards varies slightly. The final bracket design works well with all boards.
In addition to the engineering end of things, I also wrote the entire activity guide, shot photos, and produced the training video.
This product gave me experience in: design, licensing, prototyping, materials testing, copywriting, product photography, instructional videography, product liability.
I designed this product for educators working with middle and high school age students. It is a team building game. This product is licensed to School Specialty and is sold to Physical Education teachers in the US, Australia, and Europe.
The inspiration for this game came from the table-top game made of wood. My first prototype was made using a blue poly tarp and foam. The first prototype was a fixed design and after initial testing with groups I discovered participants really wanted to design their own challenges which led me to prototyping this final design.
I wrote the activity guide for this product.
This product gave me experience in: design, licensing, prototyping, materials testing, copywriting, product photography.
In February 2013 my daughter and I built a small hovercraft. It was an opportunity to apply Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The result was pure fun.
I was asked by my daughter's 4th grade teacher to bring the hovercraft in for show-and-tell. We powered it up and gave all the students a ride. I then taught a lesson about friction and aerodynamics. The visit was a huge success.
Near Space Balloon Project
In the fall of 2012 I helped a group of middle school students send a GoPRO HD video camera to "near space". This STEM project was supported by TEDx Asheville. The students were asked to present on stage at TEDx Asheville 2012 and they appeared in print media and TV.
During the design phase of this project Jeff Kessler skyped with the students. Mr. Kessler is the author of the best selling book "Apollo 13" which was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks. Mr. Kessler is the tech editor for TIME Magazine. A month after the students appeared on stage, Mr. Kessler came to the school to speak to the 7th and 8th grade classes.
Here is the 3 minute video showing the highlights of the launch and recovery:
I designed this trebuchet to launch water balloons 75 yards using kid power. I have given presentations on the physics behind trebuchets at schools (while having fun launching water balloons!). I've also been asked to present at a TEDx event and I've presented at one of the largest music and arts festivals in the United States. To get to the final working design I had to build five different prototypes. Plans for this portable human powered trebuchet will soon be made available to educators and students across the country.
Backyard Play Structure
I designed and built a unique backyard play structure I call the Adventure Tower. The Adventure Tower was featured in MAKE Magazine and now Makers around the world are building their own Adventure Towers based on my design.
There are other projects I've worked on which utilize technology in new ways including interactive e-books (for an iPad), print on demand books, building virtual communities serving thousands of people, and more.
IGNITE Asheville 2013
In February 2013 I submitted a speaking proposal for IGNITE Asheville 2013 along with 34 other people. Through an open online selection process, my talk was among the 10 selected to actually be delivered. The event was sold out (420 people) and then, after all 10 talks were given, the audience was asked to vote for the best presentation. My talk won 1st place! What an amazing honor. My complete 5 minute IGNITE presentation is below and is archived on the IGNITE Asheville website. By the way, all IGNITE talks are 5 minutes long and all have auto advancing slides (20 slides total with slides advancing every 15 seconds).