Learn to be a ‘maker’

Classes offer a chance to tinker with technology

MILFORD – The recipe for success among local "makers" is a simple one.

Take a dollop of "wonder-if," add a splash of "maybe-could" and blend in some gadgets connected to a circuit board awaiting computer-generated commands. The process comes to life at the Wadleigh Memorial Library at a free program titled "Idea to Invention: Be a Maker." The next session will be from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.

Jason Clark, 39, is the in­structor. Clark is a comput­er professional and lifelong Milford resident.

Adults and youngsters had attended three class­es as of Jan. 12. All are the newest members of the "maker" movement, folks who are a part of a worldwide, do-it-yourself culture focused on build­ing, repairing and creat­ing technological devices of interest.

Clark is a design man­ager for Digital Realty, a global information tech­nology company based in San Francisco. He tele­commutes to work.

He also is an insatiable explorer of new technolo­gies. His home workshop is a maker’s haven filled with wires, connectors, tools and a compact 3-D printer. The printer uses a pliable plastic filament to replicate almost any com­puter-generated, three-dimensional object.

Librarian Kim Gabert said she met Clark when he volunteered to install the library’s 3-D printer. The maker program was established and has been well received, she said.

Clark’s wife, Sue, who is a teacher, and his daugh­ter, Bella, 13, appreciate Clark’s yen to educate. He is assisted at the classes by the couple’s son, Dylan, 11, a student at Milford Middle School.

Currently, the makers are designing and build­ing from scratch a 3-D printer. Upon completion, it may be available on loan to library patrons.

"The maker movement is bringing back some self-sufficiency to us," Clark said. "Nothing is built simply anymore. Now, with information getting more accessible, people are returning to fixing things again."

He said he laments the trend in today’s society to dispose of the broken. He said he has dismantled and revitalized dozens of damaged electronics, in­cluding those in the fam­ily’s washing machine and a neighbor’s refrigerator.

"As long as something doesn’t get hit by light­ning, I can fix it," Clark said. "If it has its brain scrambled by lightning, there’s not a chance."

The maker class at the library has especially cap­tivated two of the youngest students. Tucker Hall, 10, traveled with his mother, Elatia Hall, from New Ip­swich to learn more about making things.

"I like it that we’re actu­ally getting to help build a 3-D printer," Tucker said. "Also, we’ll learn how to make other cool things."

Nearby, Sami Juma- Stephenson, 10, and his dad, Omar Juma, both of Milford, looked through a box of aluminum rods, tiny screws, rectangular circuit boards and color­ful, plastic-coated wires that will be a part of the printer. Sami said he en­joys being a maker.

"I like following tech­nical instructions, find­ing mistakes and fixing them," Sami said. "It’s fun and challenging."

For more information about the program, call the library at 673-2408.