I've had the privilege of being able to do a lot of incredible things in my life, here's a quick map of a few.
I design and cast aluminum cookware which I now give out to my friends when they get married. It was inspired by a short story found below.
Throwing water into the pan, I tilt my head and listen to the response. The familiar popping greets me. It’s ready. Looking over the counter, I survey the damage. Eggshells teeter near the edge. Spices litter the landscape. The chicken is splayed over the cutting board and everything is covered in a fine dusting of flour. I stand ready, bracing myself for the next step.
“I think I’m ready grandma. I just throw it in?” I yell toward my phone propped against the wall.
“You didn’t forget the French onion mix right? And you double dipped the chicken?” She lists-off back to me.
As I nod back, I realize how warm I am. I wonder if it’s from the heat of the oil or my grandmas watchful stare. It’s time. I gently drop the chicken into the skillet. It falls through the surface with a soft plop. I slowly relax, unconsciously releasing my curled fist.
What’s done is done. Now we can only wait and see.
“How has school been going?” Drifts from my phone, the words breaking the trance.
My grandma’s love hides beneath her words. What have you been doing? Have you been meeting new friends? Have you been eating enough? Will you be home for Christmas?
I tell her.
It’s finally time. I remove the prize, wrapping it slowly in paper towels as I wait for it to cool. My nerves return, reminding me of everything I may have done wrong. Yet the cool stare from the screen, douses the fears.
“It looks perfect” I hear.
With only one thing left to do, I take a bite. It tastes like home.
This is where I actually learned how to make things that work. Classes are great for calculations, but there's no subsititute for projects that require your engineering to be on point - otherwise you'll crash.
A wooden scultpure about moving through time
A chair reimagined and inspired by Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione. Simple, clear design language demonstrates use and construction. Built using only 2 x 4’s, plywood, and screws so that anyone, anywhere can construct it.
Before coming to Stanford, a couple friends came to me with an idea to create a better way to make baby bottles. I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s a fairly involved and specific process (especially if you also happen to be holding a crying baby). After researching and brainstorming we came up with a portable automatic baby formula preparer. I did all the electromechanical design and prototyping. My friends are working to pitch the idea to investors.
I took my favorite class - precision product design - my senior spring at MIT and I realized how much I still didn’t know about engineering products. Throughout the semester we learned about accuracy, precision, repeatability, preload, constraints, error budgeting, and how to make a machine that moved like butter. My final project was an automatic wall mounted standing desk with a stiffness of 30 N/mm. My only regret - I wish I took better pictures.
Most of my family are educators, my Mom being the foremost. She’s been teaching 6th grade since I was born. I think it’s genetic. In undergrad I TA’d “Intro to Making” where people from across the school would come and get the basics on how to make things with Room 36 –esque equipment. The people that came started from all different levels of handiness and they could make anything for their final projects. As a TA I was in charge of making sure that 4 teams completed their final project. This spanned the gamut of training them on machines, teaching them CAD (and more importantly pointing them towards good tutorials), making sure no one got hurt, recommending vendors, and troubleshooting when everything was falling apart the day before demo day.
Throughout undergrad I also worked a lot with kids. Mainly because I learned too much from them. For two summers in undergrad I worked at a Salvation Army’s summer camp where I was responsible for kids well-being and growth. We ran programming, camped out, went into nature, and overall had a blast. I also got the opportunity to volunteer with another organization called Camp Kesem where we ran week long camps for kids of cancer patients. Looking back, these were easily the two most rewarding experiences of my life. Kids have a tendency to teach you more about life and their laughs are infectious.
I hope by now you’ve gotten a basic understanding of the things I’ve done and like doing.
At the end of the day, I'm just a guy who likes working with cool people, on tough stuff, and making incredible products.
Thanks for reading, Jimmie