Meet a young engineer who knows what it’s like to compete at Make48. Kyra Rubinstein knows what it’s like to create a brand new idea and bring it to fruition in 48 hours. She and her team, ‘The Big Easy’, competed on the third season of Make48 at the college v. college season in Baltimore/Towson, Maryland. Originally from Houston, Texas, Kyra attended Tulane University in New Orleans. She graduated with a degree in engineering physics with a concentration in mechanical engineering as well as a math minor.
Imagine our surprise when we found out Kyra relocated to Wichita, Kan., and was starting a job with Textron Aviation. We reached out to her and she joined the tool techs at the Wichita ‘21 city event for the first time. She enjoyed it so much she returned to Nationals this year and will be back at GoCreate this June to help the teams build their prototypes. We spoke to Kyra about her past experience as a competitor, and where she is today.
What was the biggest reason your team competed in Season 3? Do you look back at your time on Make48 - when your team competed - and think we should’ve done this or that?
Tulane has always been a school to enjoy engineering competitions. We often compete in NASA competitions, entrepreneurship competitions and anything else that comes our way. So naturally, when we saw Make48 we were excited to compete!
I actually didn't know my teammates when I was selected for the team because it was an audition process, but I would say that each of us was very interested in product design and innovating. 3 out of the 4 members of my team had worked at the Tulane Makerspace so we had a strong passion for making. Despite getting third place, I don't regret the decisions we made during the competition. I am still very proud of the idea we had and was impressed by the way we all worked together as a team. I think if I had to pick something to change, I think we could've made a more visually appealing prototype for the judges to look at, however, I think our prototype got our product idea across.
Best memory you took away with you?
My favorite memory as a team was right after I walked off stage. It felt so good to finally present what had been running through my mind for the last 48 hours. Whether my team had won or lost, we had successfully created a prototype, a business pitch and a video, and I think we were all proud of what we had done. Not only that, but suddenly all the teams were a lot friendlier with each other and it was really nice to get to know other makers who had this wild shared experience with me.
You’re a tool engineer at Textron. Can you tell me what you do and how long you’ve been working there? Have you always wanted to be an engineer?
I moved to Wichita, KS and started working at Textron in June, so I've almost been there for a full year now. I do a variety of things as a Tool Engineer. My main job is to create 3D designs for tools the shop floor can use to create plane parts. This means I am creating jigs such as fixtures to hold parts as they go through a table saw, fixtures to hold parts at the correct angle when being welded, etc. Growing up I always loved science and knew I wanted to "be a scientist", however, it wasn't until my junior year of high school that I realized I wanted to be an engineer after I had seen one of my 3D models come to life in the form of a 3D print.
You’ve been a Tool Tech at a few Make48 events. Favorite memory so far? What are some things you’ve enjoyed and what keeps you coming back?
I love being a tool tech! I find it to be a lot less stressful than being on a team, and it's an incredibly enjoyable experience being able to see what every team is doing and help them. I think the most rewarding part of the job is seeing how excited a team gets whenever you give them the parts for their prototype. That's the same feeling I got when I first realized the power of 3D printing, and I'm excited to show others that same feeling.
My favorite memory as a tool tech is harder to pick out. I have a lot of great memories helping teams and seeing their faces light up when they tell me their idea or when I bring them components for their final product. I honestly really love bonding with teams and making their ideas a reality.
I really like what Make48 stands for, and want to help everyone see that you can make anything, even if you may not have all the skills needed for the job. I also love collaborating and meeting other makers, especially at the nationals event. That was an incredible time where I got to collaborate with 3 other amazing designers to create the Kid's Choice Award Trophy and also learn so many new techniques!