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Generator Stories: Meet Ali

By November 15, 2018 No Comments

Through the end of the year we’ll be sharing stories about the people who make Generator tick.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 to support and expand Generator’s offerings in 2019. We hope you can help and please spread the word!

Meet Ali.

When we talk about Generator we usually lead with stats and program descriptions rather than the people we serve. It’s our community’s generosity that allows Generator to meet people where they are, as was the case with Ali. That’s where success happens.

Ali is a senior at Burlington High School. He heard about Generator about a year ago from both his art teacher as well as a mentor.

“As an engineer, I always have ideas,” Ali said. He knew he wanted to learn how to design and make things and he thought Generator might be able to help.

One day after school Ali walked a mile from his home to Generator. He connected with Jon, our Community Outreach Coordinator, who gave him a tour and asked about his interests.

Ali was interested in learning just about everything. The challenge was finding a pathway into Generator that could help him grow his skills.

Fortuitously, just days later, Mayor Weinberger’s office reached out with a request. Could Generator revamp the portable podium that travels with the mayor to various speaking engagements?

The podium project was an opportunity to go through a design-thinking process with a high profile client. Their request for multiple options required multiple prototypes evolved from various design programs, tools, and machines.

Elliot, our Operations Director, was tasked with the podium project. He saw the project as a way to work with Ali and provide one-on-one mentoring and training to increase Ali’s confidence and skills in preparation for independent projects of his own.

When you support Generator, you make it possible for us to provide the kind of personalized attention to people that leads to transformation, as it did with Ali.

Ali has been coming to Generator after school for four weeks now. We suspect he’ll be a regular at Generator until he goes to college next fall. He’s received personal training on the Epilog laser cutter, the CNC router, in the wood shop, and in various 3D design programs.

“This is a huge opportunity for me,” Ali said. “Seeing people’s process and projects… I get to see others’ points of view. I learn how to use different tools and systems.”

At this point, Ali has worked with several folks at Generator. “There’s always someone to help,” he said. “My next project will be on the 3D printer, just because I want to learn it.”

Ali recently finished making his first two prototypes of the portable podium and had his first check-in with the Mayor’s office. He’s now working on a third prototype based on their feedback. Ali plans to complete the podium project before the end of the year. We’ll be sure to update you when the final podium is complete.

“The more I learn, the better off I’ll be. I want to go into electrical or computer engineering. I’d like to get ahead for college. I think of the future and what I can do to better myself.”


There are countless eager makers who could benefit from the resources at Generator, and our aim is to grow to accommodate them.


 Will you make a year-end gift to empower more Vermonters like Ali to create and innovate at Generator?