I would like to introduce you to David Marshall. He has been working as the Kansas Ambassador for Make48 since August 2021. As the Kansas Ambassador, his job is to reach out to businesses and organizations in Kansas to become competition sponsors.
Marshall originally comes from Witchita, and he got involved with Make48 during the 2021 national competition.
“I was a member of GoCreate, an awesome makerspace located on Wichita State’s campus,” Marshall shares, “During one of my visits working on a project, I learned that Make48 was coming to Wichita for an innovation competition. I had never heard of Make48 but thought innovation and a competition to solve a challenge by creating a prototype in a 48-hour period sounded interesting. I volunteered to do whatever was needed. I also had knowledge of working with some of the tools and machinery in the wood shop, [so] I could also assist as a ToolTech. It was a fun experience.”
A few months after that competition, Marshall was contacted by Make48 to become a part of their team.
Although Marshall helped as a tool tech during the 2021 Nationals, he didn’t have a big background in STEM growing up. Marshall attributes this to a lack of resources and instruction in STEM when he was young.
“There was nothing available when I was in high school or college…I am excited for students growing up these days [to have] access to all kinds of STEM/STEAM kits that invite everyone to explore in many different fields [such as] science, design, electrical, robotics, coding, and much more.”
Marshall loves the opportunities the Make48 competitions provide, giving people experience in innovation and problem-solving. “I am really excited about what Make48 is offering through their competitions across the US. It provides the opportunity to experience the process of innovation through being given a challenge/problem that needs a solution. [Participants] design and troubleshoot their creation, creating it to be the best prototype they can come up within 48 hours.”
Marshall was a big help in bringing a competition to KSSB. Hannah Christenson from Envision - a company in Witchita that provides opportunities for visually impaired and blind people - introduced him to Jon Harding, the superintendent at KSSB. From there, Marshall and Make48 CEO Tom Gray visited the campus to see about hosting an event there.
“We were very impressed with the school, what they were offering the blind and visually challenged community locally as well as support throughout the state of Kansas and parts of Missouri. We also were very impressed that the school had [its] very own makerspace and all the projects the students were engaged in. Tom, Jon, and I all saw this as an opportunity, first, to hold an innovation competition at the makerspace, and, second, to highlight the skills and abilities of the students.”
Marshall says he was impressed with all the staff who organized everything, and the students competing at the KSSB competition. He shares how he enjoyed watching them apply their unique skills and talents and work as successful teams. He noticed the different skillsets that complemented each other.
“There were the more vocal students, better at sales, leading, [and] presenting. There were the artists, best for designing and visualizing all the parts of their prototype coming together and how to present it. There were those with attention to detail to help troubleshoot problem areas that needed to be addressed. It was wonderful to be a witness to their processes as well as lend support when and where [was] needed.”
The best part of each competition, Marshall believes, is the impact it has on the participants.
“I love seeing the participants come out of our competitions transformed by the experience…The participants go through highs and lows multiple times through the weekend. And in the end, they have bragging rights that they made it…win, lose, or draw…They [are] better and stronger for the experience.”
Marshall believes the competitions have a big effect on the participants, helping them improve skills that they can take with them through life. “You can’t be a part of one of these events without being more solution-oriented, coming up with ideas on how to improve things. It is infectious.”
Marshall is also a firm believer in the importance of collaboration. “We can do a fair amount as individuals,” he says, “But we can do much more collaborating with others…Getting along with each other and joining our skills with others makes us stronger. It helps build better communities and a better and healthy society.”
In his opinion, all the tool techs are the “secret sauce” of Make48’s competition. He emphasizes how they level the playing field, so the teams can focus on ideating and designing and not worry about their ability to actually build a prototype. To him, these tool techs are superstars that help the teams shine.
Outside of Make48, Marshall shares that a big hobby of his is creating pendants by carving into gemstones and minerals. “I love working with the quartz family of Amethyst, Citrine, Smokey and Clear Quartz, Chalcedony, also Agates,” says Marshall, “I also love carving Nephrite and Jadeite Jades.”
About the pedants he creates, Marshall says, “I love the feel, the colors, and [the] weight of the stones. It is like wearing a small part of nature as you go about your life.”
I met David Marshall at the KSSB competition I competed on, then talked to him again at Nationals. Every time I talked to him, he gave my team great advice and encouragement. He is a great guy and an important member of the Make48 team. If you’d like to speak further with David Marshall about bringing a Make48 competition to your space you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.