Words from Francis- 2017 Summer Intern

Personal Profile

Internship period: 2017 Jun-Aug

Internship job duties: Natural Factory- Material Library, material exploration/ experiments, Citizen Science Fair (CSF)- DIY Microscope

Interests: sustainability, natural factory, social innovation, earth science, materials, softgoods, illustration

Education: Current HK PolyU BA Product Design student

Me with the almost ready material library
QR codes under preparation

Support, Gains and Growth

After completing my internship in MakerBay, I can gratefully claim it a wise choice. It seems cliche to say, but yes, MakerBay and I have both contributed to each party’s growth- I feel encouraged and am continuing with it.

First and foremost, we share common visions, which is vital to our mutual growth and how I get to know more about my passion, strengths and shortcomings within these months. My interests lie in many different fields, but behind all scattered works and projects of mine, there is my motivation to creatively realize and promote sustainability in social, environmental and economic aspects. By successfully establishing the material library, instructing 7 CSF microscope workshops, I have a clearer mind on my passion for “observation, reflection, interaction between people, and nature”, be that skills, ideas, stories to be shared/ investigated.

This is probably because of the fact that“connections and active communication” has formed the biggest part of my internship. MakerBay is an equipped co-working space that gathers makers, experts, passionate and interesting minds from diverse backgrounds, which makes me believe it is ideal for active and cross-disciplinary learning. People with many interests but lack time and resources to dive into each of them alone should be excited about the potential network, skill and knowledge exchange here. Frankly speaking, I have scarce STEM knowledge, which is probably quite unique a background among MakerBay members and users. Fortunately, I still remember how Cesar, Eddie, Ken, Jake, Keith, Paul, Goodesign group, even other interns, apprentices Rizzi and Cindy have patiently advised me on 3D modeling, electronics, even my way of working on unexpected occasions. Every time when I reach out for help, the small lectures they give lighten my world of confusion and disappointment. Even those conversations with random visitors can recharge me and improve my work.

Joyful moment with kid participants in workshop
Cesar teaching me on woodwork during induction class [instructor ver.]

My free access to workshop equipments is another very valuable chance of learning. It is not really the hardwares that interest me most because fortunately, we have similar ones in school- PolyU School of Design (SD), and if needed, even Industrial Centre for aid on more engineering- driven designs. (For your information, in SD, there are wood, metal workshops with other common model- making machines, tools e.g. laser cutter, 3D printer, sewing machine, vacuum-forming machine.) What truly matters is the “free” will and right to use them i.e. without the monitorship and instant guidance, even restrictions from school technicians. Talking about the level of trust and autonomy of working with machines, school student users seem very protected under the school’s will to ensure “normal, safe and efficient workshop operation”. Students inevitably lose many problem-solving, hands-on working opportunities. For instance, material restriction- school laser cutter is only for cutting acrylic, mdf, paper and card boards (while it can actually cuts wood and engrave on felt, leather, metals), even the cutter and table saw are only for technicians to operate, in addition to the inadequate variety and amount of saws/ hand tools provided e.g. chop saw. I still remember how the laser cutter in MakerBay taught me to refine my design, to customize production by adjusting speed and power according to material types, even just to proceed the normal cutting process from the very beginning- this level of trial and error is something school cannot offer.

My enriched knowledge on materials, electronics, science, enhanced hands-on workshop, project coordination and event organization skills are just few of the valuable gains. On top of that, it is the way I think that is truly evolving. Before actually working at MakerBay, Cesar and I had a casual lunch meeting on establishing mutual expectations on work. He said the objective of MakerBay is to “be the back-up force of activists so that impacts can be sustained”, now I understand this statement and it has advanced my mindset. I start thinking of solutions in a larger context, concerning the system instead of only steps of actions. For example, the idea of “community efforts bringing about significant socio-political impacts” is highly relevant to my aspiration on achieving sustainability. One of my recent thoughts is to safeguard food safety and thereby, revive local organic farming through citizen scientist’ monitorship. Be it a convincing concept or not, I believe it is a clue to my personal growth and future career development, that is contributed by my working experience here.

Gratitude to…

Managing my double identities as both

1) a MakerBay intern (staff) and

2) one of the co-founders of School of Design Open Ideas (SDOI, a co-working cross- disciplinary project platform (to-be) initiated by PolyU students since 2016)

has further enhanced my “life learning” lessons here. Despite our youngish time, project management, and even my personal shortcomings, I have always been more than thankful and privileged to receive critical opinion and support from my senior at MakerBay and at the same time- SDOI collaborating partners: Cesar, Eda and Maria. Please have my greatest gratitude for everyone’s care, tolerance and also, apologies for causing any inconvenience. We will surely improve ourselves as better working team players, project facilitators, and makers. I truly enjoy staying with the material library, resources and people here. Thank you all, with my greatest regards for making this internship my milestone of developing community sustainability. See you.

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Ms. Angie Zhou

Education Specialist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Angie Zhou is an Education Specialist at MIT App Inventor. She was the founder and CEO of Dreams Come True in Shenzhen, where she developed online coding courses for kids. She also has previous curriculum development, teaching and staff training experience at First Code Academy in Hong Kong.