It’s been a couple of years since I was in college, but of course I remember it. Having classes so early in the morning (who expects college students to be at school by 9?), boring teachers and too much homework. Of course, looking back on it, I realize I’m one of the few lucky ones in the world who gets to attend higher education, and I should have appreciated it more while it was happening. Fortunately there are people out there making the most of it. I met John Deppe at Metrix, and he is having a lot of fun going out of his way to make interesting things for school.

John is working on his associates degree in Everett, and as part of that is taking a drafting class. He told me that all drafting used to be done by hand (on paper!). Of course, in this digital age, everyone now uses computers and really expensive software. His class has been using a program called SolidWorks, which is used for 3D CAD design. For the class final, his teacher gave the students a rather open ended assignment- impress the teacher. Many of his fellow students were creating 3D models with moving parts on the computer, but John decided to take it to the next level and actually make a physical 3D model on one of the printers at Metrix!

For those of you who are unaware, Metrix has several 3D printers called MakerBots. They take tubes of certain kinds of plastic, melt it, and then eject it onto a platform that can move in all three directions, allowing people to make plastic figures up to 4”x4”x6”. Pretty neat-o. Since John was already using a 3D creation program, this was the perfect fit to put what he was learning into practice. The first design he created was too complicated. It looked great on the computer, but ended up not being compatible with the somewhat simple abilities of the MakerBots. After a redesign, he’s figured out how to make is own miniature plastic office chair. He’ll be printing it out in several parts and then joining them together. Without having Metrix to work in, he never would have gotten the valuable experience of having something mess up when it should have worked just fine (a lesson I have learned many times).
He also has a couple of other cool ideas he’s working on at Metrix. He’s mostly done with creating a personalized sticker for his laptop, and will also continue to use Metrix as a tool for helping with his schoolwork. Next quarter he is taking an electrical circuits course (something Metrix knows a lot about), and will also have to do an outreach project with a high school (he’s thinking of doing a project like creating LED flashlights). And he’s only been going to Metrix for a couple of weeks now!

I wish I had this kind of resource when I was in school. What a great way to take initiative in learning! I went to a small school that didn’t have a lot of the same resources that bigger universities have. I would have probably used the MakerBots or laser cutter for the occasional art class I took, or the plotter for printing a giant poster of all the grammar rules in my language classes. Perfect for staring up at while I was an insomniac. Perhaps someone will figure out how to make a ramen making robot?
Metrix has been a great resource for me to have fun, and I’m glad to see that John is able to use it for something more.