You can watch this next Maker with his team right now on PBS. Gregg Nowling competed in Indianapolis last year with a group of educators from Purdue Polytechnic High School. The Mallory’s came in first place at the first Indianapolis event and moved forward to compete at Nationals in Wichita, Kan., this year.
Gregg has been a maker since a young age, when his grandma would buy old radios and give him a screwdriver, and he would take things apart and put them back together. These days Gregg is skilled in a variety of tooling, but these days enjoys laser cutting and 2D design projects.
A design and engineering coach, Gregg works at PPHS but has a passion in professional prop building. Since 1997, Gregg has built and specializes in building replicas of famous movie props for clients all over the world. He recently finished building R2D2 (Star Wars) and is currently building the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark and a full-sized 1977 Corvette from the movie Corvette Summer right now.
Gregg spoke about the Indianapolis event at Fishers Maker Playground and his team’s journey on Make48.
Why did you decide to come to volunteer at this year's Indianapolis event?
Gregg: Part of the reason I decided to become a tool tech is because I wanted to be able to give back. I had such an amazing experience, both in Indianapolis and at Nationals, that I just wanted to do more. I wanted an opportunity to actually work with the tools and help the next group of winners because there’s a good chance that the next team that wins could come out of the Indianapolis teams.
What was your first impression of Fisher's makerspace at Maker Playground?
Gregg: The makerspace up here in Fisher's is amazing. It's beautiful, well laid out, organized and they have a great assortment of tools. The people who run it are doing a great job and I'm a little sad that I don't live closer to take advantage of all they have to offer.
What advice would you give the teams that are competing this year?
Gregg: The biggest piece of advice is to trust your team. Even if you don't like the idea personally, trust the people that you're with enough to know that they came up with a good idea and believe in them because they believe in you. Leave it all here. Don't take anything home with you. Leave every bit of energy and innovation that you have here.
And finally, just enjoy the process because this really is kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something amazing. With the topic at hand, this could change somebody's life. Not just you as a maker, but the people that this product is targeted too. It could genuinely affect lives.
What did you find most difficult when you competed?
Gregg: I had different experiences at both competitions.
The first one, the most difficult thing for me was I didn't like the idea at first. It was hard to set aside my personal feelings to want to move forward. But ultimately, I trusted the people I was with to know that they knew something I didn't know and to go with it. And they were absolutely right. It was an amazing invention, and I couldn't see it at first.
At Nationals we struggled. We spent almost 8 hours trying to come up with a good idea, and the idea we started off with was my idea. And I knew that it wasn't a great idea, but I think we were all anxious to say, this is not going to work. But when we finally just were honest with ourselves and trusted each other and said, what's next? And we moved on to another idea that was a much better idea.
If you could compete again and you couldn't bring your old teammates, who would be on your team?
Gregg: I would bring in Miles Davis who we competed with last year. He was a member of the second place team in Indianapolis (thegrindery.org) and he’s volunteering as a Tool Tech in Indianapolis ‘22. After the topic was announced he and I were brainstorming how we would do this. One of the other tool techs asked if we needed to form a team. It was like, yes, we could do this.
Why did you sign up the first time around?
Gregg: It's funny. Drew, our team captain, asked me and Andy if we wanted to do it. I liked the idea of making things with my friends and said Yes. I didn’t know what Make48 was and had no idea it was even a TV show. When we found out it was a healthcare challenge, we got our other team member Amanda into it who is the RN at PPHS.
What was the best memory you took away from your competition when you were competing?
Gregg: It was all the camaraderie and getting to have fun with friends. When we went into the Indianapolis competition, my goal wasn't to win. My goal really was to get to the Nationals because that will last and it’s something I can teach forever. I can show others about our experience because it is important. But what I found was, I just had fun getting to know people. This is my third time doing something with Make48 and it's like seeing your best friends from summer camp. The moment I see everyone I'm in my happy place. I think that was my biggest takeaway, the friendships that I got to make in 48 hours that I feel like are going to last me a lifetime.
You can watch Gregg and The Mallory’s on their journey on Season 5 of Make48 currently airing online and in cities nationwide. Make48 on PBS