David is a super creative teen who usually dabbles in film. “Making a movie has always been my go-to for school projects,” he said. “Until now.”
David found his way to Generator thanks to our Design Lab program.
Design Lab, conducted in partnership with schools and other non-profits, provides hands-on STEM workshops to students in grades seven through twelve.
The design-thinking process begins in the classroom and culminates at Generator where students use the same software, tools, and processes used by professional engineers, artists, and designers to bring their ideas to life.
“When I walked into Generator I was like, whoa,” David exclaimed. He has long been curious about product design and engineering and he considered this his chance to learn more.
“For this project I decided I wanted to try making something, because all the stuff is here to do it,” he said. This decision was a major departure from his normal film go-to strategy.
David’s Design Lab workshop designed and made simple phone stands. The workshop taught the students about product design and empowered them to use Adobe Illustrator and the Epilog laser cutter.
After receiving that training, David decided to take the phone stand idea to the next level: a solar-powered phone stand. “You could place it near a window, or on the dashboard of a car, ” he explained.
David’s project gave him the opportunity to deepen his experience with the tools he learned, especially the powerful design software and the ever-popular laser cutter. He also spent time in Generator’s electronics lab with designer and staff member Pete Moore who taught him how to wire and solder a USB port and solar hook-up.
David’s project also led to a conversation with Hilton Dier III, an engineer and solar expert who is Generator’s current Maker-in-Residence. Hilton is spending his two-month residency at Generator fabricating a rugged, single-person, portable solar power pack to be deployed in remote areas and during weather events and emergencies.
Hilton and David chatted about their project similarities and David’s design challenges. At Generator, we value collaboration and a culture of support, so there are always folks around to lend a hand or give advice. Hilton gave David some pointers on how to design his solar powered product.
By the end of the day, much to his delight, David had conceived a product, designed it, and made it himself. Along the way, he received one-on-one mentoring and encouragement from the Generator community, including from an expert solar product engineer.
Empowered, David is already contemplating his next project. “I have so many ideas now,” he said. “It’s so cool here, and everything seems possible.”
We are grateful to our 2018 Design Lab partners who have included Dealer.com, the Winooski School District, Hunt Middle School, Spaulding High School, King Street Center, Lund Center, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, the Governor’s Institute of Vermont, Essex Junction Middle School, UVM’s Mansfield Hall, Spectrum Youth and Family Services, Peoples United Community Foundation and many more.
You can learn more about Design Lab here.
Generator wants to expand Design Lab and empower more young people to design, create, and innovate.