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MAKE Asks: Maker Inspirations

MAKE Asks: Maker Inspirations

Make: Asks is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: What person(s) inspired you to become a maker or set you on a new trajectory in what you make?

My father was making and fixing things for as long as I could remember. From working on VW Bugs, to a rooftop parabolic water heater, he taught me to be unafraid in learning new things; to plunge headlong into new ideas that I could cause to come to fruition.

Post your responses in the comments section.

26 thoughts on “MAKE Asks: Maker Inspirations

  1. firmwarez says:


    Early in my life it was my grandfather. I lost him when I was only 9, but in those few precious years he taught me that the most important knowledge a person could have was how to learn — how to look up the information you needed, and how to learn new skills. He was a electrical engineer for SouthWestern Bell and it was probably being exposed to wiring and circuits at such a young age that propelled me on a journey to become an embedded systems engineer.

    My father was a helicopter mechanic for the military as well as an amateur sports car racer; I know that’s where I get my gearhead tendencies.

    For many years I focused on work on projects that Did Something. But with two children, I once again learned that there is a joy in making simple things fun. So now my making inspiration, as I shift back in to lights, lasers, and sound, is my two boys.

  2. FredB says:

    My Dad, of course. As a kid, I thought he could build anything. He was a child of the depression and a veteran of WWII. His generation’s skills at making what they needed helped them through the depression and to winning WWII. They were also winners at building the country after WWII.

    The other great childhood influence was Popular Science magazine. I could buy them used for five cents each. That collection was my encyclopedia.

  3. Ryan says:

    Reading Rainbow, Bill Bye and Magic Schoolbus.

    The impact these shows had on me as a child was immense and it is sad that there is no modern equivalent. We need science, logic and reasoning to be fun.

  4. tonyv says:

    Neither of my parents ever made anything, I lived far from my grandparents, and I was the oldest child, so I really don’t think any person is responsible — I just came out of the womb this way. My parents did supply me with maker-toys along the way (lincoln logs, tinkertoys, lego, etc), but usually becaused I begged for them. Same thing with tools later on.

  5. chuck says:

    I was born curious and creative but there were two men who really influenced me. One was my high school metal shop teacher Mr. Fuchs. He was as old school as they come. On the first day of class he met us at the door with a handshake and a job application. After reviewing our apps he announced that he wouldn’t hire any of us but that by the end of the year he hoped to change that. He was a no-nonsense teacher who didn’t just teach but explained. He often brought strange items from home to show us and discuss the function and design. After a year with him I was ready to work safely in a shop with other men and that’s a valuable lesson.
    Another big influence was my high school wood shop teacher Mr. Shettle. He was an easy going kind of guy who liked to crack jokes and cut up, as long as you weren’t on a tool. In my senior year I had two periods of independent study in the wood shop and he encouraged me to design and build whatever I could imagine. Having the run of a complete wood shop at 17 was awesome!
    They probably don’t remember me as an outstanding pupil but those men planted seeds that continue to grow.

    1. chuck says:

      PS- I like the new compact front page design but I’d like to see the comment counter at the bottom of each headline come back. I like to come back to posts like this and see what folks are saying and it’s nice to see if there’s a new comment without clicking to the actual post and scrolling down.

  6. Jeff says:

    ULTRAMAN was a TV series that aired on American television in the 70’s. It was originally filmed in Japan in 1966 and overdubbed in English).

    This was a great show, and I’m it sure inspired many kids like myself to pursue careers in science & technology. There was a particular character on the show named “Ito”, and he IS the forerunner of the modern “Maker”. Ito was always inventing things, using electronics, chemistry, science, mechanics, to help Ultraman and the Science Patrol fight giant monsters that came from outer space to attack Earth. I am still inspired by this show to this day, and occasionally pop in the DVDs and watch episodes. It’s great to bring the excitement I had as a kid about technology (from watching this series) forward to the present day in my electronics/robotics projects. Sadly, I don’t know of any shows in the present day for kids that expose them to this level of excitement about Science. In Ultraman, it was the “Science Patrol” that protected the Earth, with a heavy emphasis on showing scientists in white coats working in various laboratories and research institutions. Science was more than cool. It was awesome!! And scientists were elevated to the highest levels of societal recognition in this show.

    Hollywood producers would be doing America a great service if they were to write a similar, updated show with recent and near-future technology, in the spirit of the original “Science Patrol” to get the kids excited about Science again at a very early age. :-)

    If you haven’t seen this show before, I highly recommend viewing a few episodes on Youtube. The DVDs are available on Amazon. If you remember seeing this show as a kid, watch it again, and you will instantly remember how excited you were about science and technology when you first watched this show back in the 70’s.

  7. Devon says:

    Adam Savage!

  8. Steev says:

    My father. Still to this day, my inspiration. He just had that skill of watching things and figuring out how they worked. Had me working on things in the shop at about 4. I always had stuff to build with and the freedom to make mistakes. I always learned better when I knew I didn’t have to worry about breaking something… if I broke, then I had to learn how to fix it. Bought me my first computer and then when i was talking circles around him about computers, he bought himself one and learned to code in assembly. We always had a great workshop and I just thought everyone had one. I’d go to friends house and ask how come they don’t have tools. Still happens now… how can you be an adult that owns a house and not have real tools??? My dad also taught me to step back a minute and look at things and figure out how to make them better. Improvise was always his motto…. This may be good, but it’s not quite perfect… then we modify it and there it is… Now that’s how we want it.

    So for all of this I say, Thank you dad, you are deeply missed and your grandson has surpassed my exploits at a far younger age.

  9. Luis E. Rodriguez says:

    My grandfather and uncles owned a farm in Iowa, where I grew up so urban making was a given. They worked on Trains, Calliopes and Steam Engines, as well as Semi-trucks. On TV it was every sci-fi show and Mr Wizard that got me excited!

  10. werewolf says:

    Most influential was TV series instead of people, MacGyver. Both of my grandfathers were/are masters of many crafts, but one of them died when I was too little and other is not a teacher type of personality at all. So I can mention them as possible genetic source of my quirks but not so much actively influencing in my development. Thankfully my father did not exclude me as a girl from the occasional interesting things he was doing regarding building and repairing. Probably living in Eastern Europe and being preschool age in soviet era meant more challenges about material things and caused some kind of making be present more than in countries of capitalism and wealth. So I think at preschool age there was something implanted by the mix of soviet necessity and that one special western TV series that luckily for those close to soviet border was in range on a foreing tv channel. And then times started to change and my interests started to manifest themselves gradually more and more.

    Recently I have tried to make a mental note for myself every time I read about a person who is doing cool things as day job or with great mastery. There is quite a list already of these people giving me everyday inspiration.

  11. Moose Gueydan says:

    poverty- wanting cooler stuff than I could afford. Like a full motion Flight simulator (built in my living room) or a pottery wheel or a jukebox or tools… iv found that things are better when you invest time and effort into them, first if you built it, you can fix it, and secondly its great for showing off….

  12. Gregg Hamilton (@AdGoorooG) says:

    My father was a child of the depression and a WWII vet (as with another commenter) and he used tools, gardened, chopped down trees, patched things up. He was great at making do, and prioritized function over form.

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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