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Teen Tool Techs | Being A Young Innovator

Young inventors have made their mark on Make48 since season 1. We love bringing those who are passionate about hands-on learning to the competitions, and there have been a range of tool techs who have been teens.

Going back to Season 1, a number of Tool Techs came from the Kansas City metro. Two of our youngest tool techs were Ted Brull and Philippe Realina. Ted and Philippe were tool techs at Make48 for season 1 and 2. Ted is the son of Make48 co-creator, Rich Brull and was just 13 years old when he first became a tool tech, laser cutting the team’s ideas with Stan Fernald in 2015. Since then, we’ve had a fair amount of young volunteers, but this year we hit a high mark.

Austin, Avery and Piper with Melissa Johnson

We recently held the 6th National competition and had a record number of young Tool Techs. Avery Rhinerson, Austin Overton, Piper Grant (Stoughton School District), Jimmy Lewis-Swain (KS State School for the Blind), and Miles Davis (Indianapolis) are a group of teens who have either been on a team, or volunteered at a regional competition, and wanted to come out to Kansas City, to help the teams build and work with the Tool Techs.

Students Avery, Austin and Piper were volunteers and tool techs at the Madison regional event at the FabLab Stoughton. We loved working with them last year and were thrilled they signed up as Tool Techs for the competition. They did everything, from setting up on day 1, to running machines and helping the teams fabricate their ideas. Avery loved his experience. “I had a lot of fun and have been very impressed by the team's ability to adapt to challenges on the fly. The whole (Make48) team has a very communal feeling to it and you can tell that there is a reason for such a high return rate of staff and volunteers. The experience across all of the team members compliments each other, and has given everyone I interacted with such a good impression to work with.”

Austin and Miles with Tyler Isaacs (Tool Tech) with Team BruWin

A junior at Stoughton HIgh School in Wisconsin, Piper Grant worked a lot with the MatterHackers and Ultimaker crew on the 3d printers. “Make48 Nationals was an amazing experience!” Piper told us. “I loved being able to 3D Print designs for the teams and explore around the UMKC (School of Science & Engineering) building.”

Miles is a freshman in high school and one of the youngest tool techs, but this is his 4th Make48 event! Two years ago, Miles and his team won a seat at Nationals in their regional competition. Last year, Miles got the opportunity to be a Tool Tech at Fishers Maker Playground, for the ’22 Indianapolis event.

Tool Techs Gregg, Adam, Tyler, Mark and Miles

He did a fantastic job and came up to Kansas City with fellow Indy tech, Gregg Nowling. “Being with Make48 is just an overall amazing experience. Working with people who might not know the tool as well as you, but have an idea that is more creative than you thought, teaches you so many cool new ways of working through problems, especially when you are working with some of the best in the world.”

Last, but certainly not least, Jimmy from the Kansas State School for the Blind couldn’t stay away from another competition. We met Jimmy in December at the first KSSB event, where he competed on his team, the Noble Nuggets.

Being blind doesn’t hold Jimmy back from trying something new. We loved his enthusiasm and his love for tools, so Tom Gray invited him to be a technician at Nationals, where he excelled. From welding to drilling, Jimmy tried several pieces of equipment with the Tool Techs. Listen to Jimmy speak about his Make48 experience at KSSB here

Adam giving Jimmy a hand with the build

We look forward to seeing where these young innovators go next on their journey!

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