I, too, am modeling this in my own life. Last Monday evening, I attended a beginner-level jewelry making class at TechShop in Round Rock. When I first walked in back in October, I knew that I wanted to spend a lot of my time there! What a wonderland of engineering possibilities! Equipped with a metal shop, wood shop, machine shop, electronics area, textiles area, and a host of other stations and equipment, TechShop is a maker's paradise. Granted, I have access to a lot of these tools in my shop here at LASA (for which I am eternally grateful!) but TechShop offers something I value even more -- lessons! I don't have a background in industrial tool use and shop skills -- my degree was in Physics, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was get my hands dirty in shop building things. In college, I was perfectly happy to just learn about science and talk about it with other folks. Coming to LASA, I was unknowingly thrust into the world of engineering*, and I've had so much fun ever since that I won't ever look back. But it posed one big problem -- my knowledge of actual tool usage and wood/metal working was spotty at best, and I've learned things piecemeal over time.
Last semester, I visted Techshop for the first time to take their introductory wood working and metal working classes. I was curious to see what the gaps in my education were, after having taught the basics to kids for 8 years. As it turns out, the gaps were few and small, and I could rest assured that I was a pro at beginner level stuff...if that's even a thing. However, there are still SO many things I don't know how to do, and so many tools I don't know how to use yet. This semester, I hope to visit TechShop many more times, learning skills like welding and sheet metal working, and how to use tools like the CNC router and laser cutter. I feel so good each time I learn a new thing. Yes, I'm a total dork and I think of it as "leveling up" or adding a new skill on my character sheet. But it also allows me to be a better engineering teacher. Each skill I gain can then be passed on to my students in our shop.
So in the spirit of the new year (hey, it's still January, right?) I encourage everybody to find something they don't yet know how to do, and learn how to do it. Even if you don't have access to places like TechShop, online tutorials like Instructables allow you learn how to do anything from soldering to building a backyard shed to cooking brownies. It doesn't matter how old you are, what your background is, or how smart you think you are -- everybody can learn something new! Go do it!
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do"
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
*LASA actually posted my teaching job as a "physics teacher" position. It wasn't until I visited the campus for my face-to-face interview that I found out the job was actually for engineering. Luckily, I ended up having the most amazing mentor and colleagues, and I learned the ropes pretty quickly. Later, I ended up attending the University of Texas here in Austin and earning my masters degree in engineering education. During my undergrad years, I never would have guessed that would happen!