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Andy DawesAndrew Dawes is teaching our new Training Camp: Introduction to Arduino.  By day, Andy is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Pacific University, where he leads a group of undergraduate research students in several fields of physics: atom cooling and trapping, pattern-forming nonlinear optics, slow- and fast-light, and the application of optical systems to quantum information science (I’m sure he will translate that in the Camp).  By night, he builds robots, teaches himself 3-D printing and is a proud father of three.  We are thrilled to have him teaching for us.   Click here to sign up or learn more about the Camp.

One project you are particularly proud of:

1. I have quite a TODO list… That is a project in and of itself. I am glad to have more ideas than time, and I would worry if my list ever got too short. This course has been a great project and I have learned a lot from getting content put together and working with the other instructors and MAKE.

Two past mistakes from which you have learned the most:

1. I was supervising a student who accidentally wired a resistive heater to the AC mains instead of +12v. I saw smoke pouring out of the heater and then the glass and aluminum parts that were holding it started to glow and melt. We kept trying to turn things off and eventually got to the circuit breaker and cut power to the whole room. Fortunately the fire was small and easy to contain. We both learned a lot. When it comes to teaching, hands-off doesn’t mean eyes-off.

2. I struggle with the last 5% of most projects. Once I see the finish line, something else always gets my attention. I haven’t necessarily learned from this, but I try to!

 Three new ideas that have excited you the most lately:

1. 3D printing – a total paradigm shift for making small parts. I love having a quick answer to “if only we had a …”

2. Open source textbooks – free in two important ways! Glad these are coming along and I will be teaching from one this fall.

3. The Internet of things – I just built a temp/humidity monitor that posts data in real time so I can track the conditions in my research lab over multi-day periods.

Four tools you can’t live without:

1. An oscilloscope

2. Leatherman squirt es4 – the only keychain I know of with wire strippers

3. Python programming language

4. iPad has been a great notebook+camera+calculator+encyclopedia for all of my projects

Five people or things that have inspired your work:

1. My grandfather, a persistent tinkerer and hobby engineer

2. My parents – they do science outreach for a regional science center they helped start in my hometown.

3. My college roommate – he introduced me to Linux, the open source movement, and inspired me to always look for ways to make a process more efficient, even if it takes more time to improve it then it would take to do it the old way.

4. My wife appreciates (puts up with) my desire to fix something instead of replacing it, and she shares my love of handmade goods. “Why buy it when you can build it.” Our kids inspire me too by keeping me young and hungry (and a little foolish).

5. The science museums all over the country: OMSI, Omniplex, Pacific Science Center…

Parker Thomas

Parker Thomas

Parker leads the team that keeps and running. He used to build two-seat, 200 mph airplanes and now focuses on treehouses, zip lines, Lego dioramas (Hogwarts and Tattooine), pens and anything else his kids want to build. He can be reached at [email protected]

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