For my day job, I’m an instructor and shop tech at the MIT Hobby Shop. The best part of my job, by far, is watching students with no prior wood or metal working experience progress from novice to expert.
In a world that we increasingly experience through screens, keyboards, and headphones, I want to promote tactile learning. I want people to be reminded that they have the power and ability to manipulate their physical surroundings and create the world they want to live in. Making and building things is not just empowering, it is (at least in my experience) critical.
I take great pride in the work created by the people I have had the pleasure of mentoring. Below are some examples of their work.
In January, we teach beginners wood working classes in the Hobby Shop. In 2022, I chose to teach a live-edge coffee table project. Despite the class being more complex than most entry level classes, the students excelled. Students learned basic machine use like the jointer, planer and table saw as well as hand tools, some CNC operation and complex joinery.
MIT's Integrated Design Management (IDM) program uses the Hobby Shop as their primary building facility. Every year, 8 groups of 4 students design something to be made in the Hobby Shop and then produce 50 identical units. In addition to helping groups individually with machine training and project planning, I also teach lectures on jigs and fixtures and on CNC programming and cutting. Nadine, pictured here, and her group made 50 cookie molds. Each of 4 cookies represents a different culture from around the world.
One of the beautiful things about the Hobby Shop is that it is a space open to all students, faculty, staff and alums to make whatever they want. Abe and Clem built this tandem bike from two old frames and some scrap metal. They left the day after graduation and rode it across the country from Massachusetts to Oregon.
Michal learned wood working in the Hobby Shop and has become one of our most skilled members. Here, she is holding a recently completed set of shelves made from reclaimed old growth pine.
Islam is a member of a small team designing an efficient way to create energy from the combustion of human waste. Pictured here, he is using a compound angle setup on the Bridgeport mill to drill angled holes for air circulation.
Andres was a member of a custom skateboard building class. Students learned CAD and CAM in Fusion 360, designed their own skateboard deck shape and cut it on the CNC router. They also used Adobe Illustrator to create a laser cut veneer inlay pattern for the bottom of the boards.
In Tess' first semester as a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, she decided to make her own desk. Shown here, she is turning giant wooden tubes for desk leg parts.
Vadim studied mechanical engineering for his masters degree, and spent much of his free time in the Hobby Shop building furniture.