Meet the Maker: Uyen Tran

Uyen Tran “…It’s not about what you make or the end result, but how you get there.” Back in 2013 when the new library was about to open its doors, Uyen Tran, Emerging Technologies Librarian at the San Diego Central Library, was responsible for setting up and growing the new 3D printing lab. Uyen is part of the core planning team for Maker Faire and is the Maker Liaison for the Fleet Science Center and is also charged with leading all hands-on activities throughout Maker Faire San Diego.    What is your current maker project? I have so many right now! I am working on the big Makey Robot “Operation” game and an infrared shooting arcade. Along with the Arduino enthusiasts group that meets at the library, we are programming an Arduino that will shoot an infrared gun at a target. Like a carnival game, a bullseye will result in flashing lights, things getting knocked over, or make some noise. We also received a grant from the California State Library to quadruple our maker lab, which we are going to turn into an Innovation Lab. We’re going to have a laser cutter! library What was the first thing you ever made? I have always been more into arts and crafts – knitting, crochet, sewing – just recently I’ve become more involved in tech, thanks to the Maker Movement of course. Without tools like 3D printers, Ardunio, and so on, making was either very time consuming or not so pretty. How did you become involved with the Maker’s Guild? I found out about it in 2013 when I volunteered at the Mini Maker Faire in Del Mar. My husband is a software engineer and he wanted to check it out. It was fantastic. It was a great way to recruit volunteers for the new lab at my library since I didn’t know anything about 3d printers at the time. At the Faire, I got to meet so many makers and was so inspired at how passionate they were about making. I felt in love with the maker community so I just naturally became super involved since then. Uyen testing one of the hands-on activities for Maker Faire! What inspires you? It depends on the project. Everyone thinks a maker space is about the tools, but it’s not. Understanding how tools work gives inspiration because then you can test their capabilities, but true inspiration is about the people and the environment. Working with and talking to other people opens the possibilities. It pushes the limit of your imagination and challenges you to try out something new. What part of your childhood inspired you to be a Maker? I believe that everyone is a maker, they just don’t all realize that. The tech interest was from my engineer dad. I always played with computers and electronics. I loved getting my hands on things. Maybe I was inspired growing up in Vietnam and just playing in the dirt? I was just never really told “no.” I see a lot of parents now who don’t let their kids take things apart or get their hands dirty. So many computers are closed systems so kids can’t really take them apart. But parents don’t have to worry about kids taking apart the thousand dollar LCD screen- there are systems like Raspberry Pi for that! What is the best part about being a Maker? Being able to see the difference I am making in the community. When you take a cupcake car out into the community, kids get inspired and people get interested — it sparks curiosity. In the end we’re all kids so it’s just fun. Uyen and her LED, arduino controlled tiara! What would you tell someone interested but apprehensive? The thing is, when it comes to making my goal isn’t the final project. It’s taking something that someone is interested in and talking them into doing it. People don’t realize that we are all makers. I remember a woman who took an entire day to build and light up a simple LED circuit. She was so excited! People with more advanced skills ran over and were hugely supportive. Making is a great confidence builder. Adults are so afraid to fail that they don’t want to try, but the maker mindset tells you that it’s okay; you are learning something new and having fun. It’s not about what you make or the end result, but how you get there. facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest