Growing up, from a young age, I had always been inspired by space and technology. I was a prototypical child of the 80s, watching Star Trek zealously, and Star Wars, and playing every space video game I could find. I was nurtured through Space Camp, with fond memories of the Egg Drop challenges and studiously attending the aerospace seminars. It was the other side to my musical sensibilities, two sides of the same coin. I found that creativity is a flowing stream, and there is a tangible parallel between the act of music composition and that of mechanical invention. Furthermore, there are similarities between the skill sets necessary to produce, and manage chamber music and orchestral groups and to produce, and manage companies bringing technologies to market. I was incredibly fortunate to attend Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins for this reason. While there I took a keen interest in electronic composition.
That led me into the world of circuit bending of hardware and manipulation of software which was translatable into 3D printing skills. While attending the institution, I took a multimedia class which was combined between MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), and the Johns Hopkins Robotics lab, where I spent much time on campus honing my understanding of state-of-the-art electronics development. Shortly thereafter I went to work for my father, a master mechanical engineer, as a drafting and design specialist, whilst composing and organizing music performances. It was a delicate, and tiring balance, but it was immensely enjoyable to pursue both activities. I eventually completed an Autodesk certification in 3D design drafting software and worked for several companies as a mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire systems specialist. It was during this period where I began to actively look at the field of technology, reconciling my childhood while reflecting on my future.
I discovered 3D printing in this context, applicable to engineering firms, at first as a tool to supplement the understanding of obstacle avoidance and detection issues in the commercial and government building projects which had so frequently vexed my engineering colleagues. I was a vocal advocate for the integration of the technology into these firms, however they were confused by the machines, and did not understand their value. It was then when I realized that the 3D printing industry still had so much farther to go, and that an individual, with dedicated and perseverance, and creativity, could make a cognizable impact on its future. Subsequently, I bought my first 3D printer kit, and went about contacting individuals in the industry to begin to learn about this new industry I had chosen to pursue. It was through this that I realized the market niche, 3D printing in concrete, had an incredible potential to transform so much, and because of the high-cost barriers to entry, was still yet in its infancy as an industry.
From that time I have gone on to found low-cost desktop polymer 3D printing companies, food 3D printing companies, fabric 3D printing companies, concrete 3D printing companies, and space companies. All these years later, whilst sitting in my office at the NASA Ames Space Center while in California for my keynote speech at the Silicon Valley 3D printing conference, I feel that I have reconciled this innate creativity, with the young child who I was once was, amazed by Star Trek and its portrayal of the matter “replicator” and the orbital shipyards. In much the same way, I reckon, my inventions can be likened to my compositions, both come from the creative aether of dreams, both are meant to inform and transcend, and both are meant to in some way, leave the our culture better from whence it was found.
My close friends often ask me, what is to become of my music, my compositions? Well, I still write music in the free time I have, I have been writing a great deal of chamber music, viola sonatas, violin sonatas, and string quartets, a paradigm I find more intrinsically reasonable with the loss of so many symphonic orchestras in lieu of the more intimate form. I often joke, that once I am on my way to Mars, I will have more time to write music, and in my old age I would be honored to translate the stunning red vistas of the planet into songs, performed by the next generation of explorers who will grow up studying music and science like myself.