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  • Writer's pictureDilan Mehta

From TinkerCAD Contest Participant to East Bay Maker Faire Presenter

My name is Dilan Mehta and I am an 8th grader at Avery Coonley School in Illinois.

Like most other days, I logged into TinkerCAD ready to design another phone stand for my neighbor or a vase for my mother, but when I looked above my designs, an advertisement caught my eye. It read, “TinkerCAD Student Design Contest. Grand Prize: $100”. I couldn’t pass on this opportunity. Fast-forward two weeks, I won the contest, but gained so much more than money when Anthony Tan, Founder of Maker Hub Club, reached out to me through my contest entry and invited me to join his program.

The Maker Hub Club community opened a vast window of opportunity for me to present my work, contribute to social impact, and learn from others in the field of STEAM. Among these was presenting at the East Bay Maker Faire. I was ecstatic when I was invited to the Maker Faire because it was a chance to become a better presenter and showcase my work to the broader community.

In preparation for the live event, I wrote a summary of my project for a Student Maker Spotlight, made a virtual exhibit on Make:Projects, and practiced a PowerPoint presentation. My fellow presenters from Maker Hub Club were Xieshi Zhang, a 9th grade Arizona College Prep student who showcased his universal tensile testing machine, and Aadhav Prabu, a 10th grade Dougherty Valley High School student who presented his nation-wide free 3D printing class.

All of our hard work had built up to the event, which took place on October 25, 2020 over Zoom. I was first to present. With all eyes of the audience focused on me, I got that nervous feeling in my stomach. But I was as ready as I would ever be, so I took a deep breath and dove into the presentation. First I introduced myself and my project, “Rubik’s Cube with a Twist”, in which I designed and 3D printed a functional 3D puzzle that solves into the shape of a twisted polygon.

I went over my project's inspiration (the TinkerCAD contest that had brought me on this journey), its mechanism, its fabrication using a 3D printer, and its assembly using screws and springs. To wrap up my presentation, I showed a video demonstration of its functionality and a reflection of its success. Our audience was mostly kids, so it was satisfying to see the younger children’s awe and answer a few of their questions. My presentation went smoothly overall and I looked forward to seeing the other projects.

Xieshi’s project was on deck and it was undeniably the culmination of immeasurable determination and hard work. He exhibited his complex design for a universal tensile testing machine, which tests the precise tensile strength of objects. It stunned me that a high school freshman was capable of designing and fabricating a $200 alternative for a machine that is commercially sold at up to $40,000.

Last but certainly not least, Aadhav shared his nation-wide 3D Printing Workshop Series, which was brought together through funding and guidance from Maker Hub Club. Being a student of his class, I can say first-hand that it is highly educational. The information and concepts taught are useful, well-explained, and detailed, so there is something to learn for everyone. In his presentation, he explained that the pandemic converted his plans for an in-person summer camp into a virtual workshop series via Maker Hub Club. It astonished me that something he planned on organizing locally through friends rapidly evolved into a nation-wide program.

From this experience, I learned about the importance of taking opportunities. Had I declined Anthony’s invitation, I would have missed out on an entire world that facilitates my interests and passions perfectly. Through joining Maker Hub Club, I learned so much from Aadhav about 3D printing, a topic on which I thought I was an expert. Maker Hub Club also connected me to Makers for COVID-19, which now funds and guides my 3D printed PPE donations for those in need. Finally, I shared my work at the East Bay Maker Faire, which was a learning experience itself about presentations and speaking skills. My experience with all of these events have shown me that opportunities lead to networking with diverse communities, to becoming better at something all while pursuing passions and having fun.

Watch a recording of the East Bay Maker Faire here.

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