When Andrew Katz’ brother snuck into his room and “scared the living daylights” out of him, instead of getting mad, he got smarter. Andrew combined ultrasonic sensors, an Arduino microcontroller, and his laptop to create his Notify Me Now stealth security notification system that alerts him whenever a sensor is tripped by changing images on his laptop screen. To test it for house-wide implementation, he prototyped it in a dollhouse, and shared his design with thousands of folks at Maker Faire New York 2011, when he was just 12.
Andrew was introduced to Arduino at his first Maker Faire in 2010, and knew he had to learn to program to use this amazing tool. Two introductory courses later, he was hooked on programming and Arduino, and a world of possibility opened up. Not surprising for someone who credits the science fair he attended in kindergarten as being the initial spark of inspiration on his road to being a maker. Andrew has also been influenced by Smash Lab, MythBusters, and building kits with his father and grandfather.
Clearly a practical problem-solver, Andrew’s dream project involves systems to automate home environments of the elderly, inspired by a desire to help his great aunt Florence cope with her limited mobility. When asked about his dream job, Andrew replied, “An inventor and a scientist who also teaches people about making, which I will do a great deal of. I would also like to program because then I can make more complex devices.”
If Andrew could use his ever-growing maker skill set to solve a world problem, he would focus on natural disaster detection and alert systems. Reading about his hero Bill Gates’ work on devices to lessen or halt hurricanes and forest fires has sparked a deep interest in contributing to these solutions. His sage advice for other young makers? “I would tell young makers to always go for their ideas, to repurpose things, and to never give up.”
Location: Larchmont, N.Y.
Hero: Bill Gates, Ben Franklin, MythBusters, Smash Lab
Favorite Accomplishment: A bedroom security camera system using VCRs, phones, cameras, a doorbell, and switches implanted in keyholes.
Favorite Tool: leatherman squirt (MAKE: Circuit Breaker)
Current Project: An automatic dog ball shooter with a pushbutton that tells the Arduino when to pick up the ball and load it into a firing mechanism.