Generating creativity

MONKTON, Vt. (WCAX) A few months ago, a young man named Joshua Nye sent WCAX News a video of him climbing into and operating a giant robot that he's building at his home in Monkton.

"Probably when I was three years old, I saw the movie 'Short Circuit' and then after that, I was running around with a bucket on my head. My buckets have gotten a little more sophisticated since then," Nye laughed.

Nye said he was less than impressed by a giant robot fight he watched on YouTube, so he decided to make one himself. Unlike the robots he saw on that video, Nye wanted to make something a little cheaper so that it could take a beating.

His creation is about 10-feet tall when the head is on it. It's made with PVC piping, two-by-fours and aluminum roof flashing. Bike cables help Nye operate the arms.

He started the first prototype in the fall of 2016. Once the robot is built, Nye is hoping to publish the blueprint so that others can build giant robots to fight his.

"It's pretty much the fulfillment of a childhood dream," Nye said. "I've been working with robotics and taking stuff apart and trying to do all sorts of creative stuff with it for a while."

Nye has put $1,000 into his giant robot. That money came in the form of a stipend through Generator in Burlington. It's Vermont's largest makerspace with 400 members.

Nye applied and was accepted into its maker-in-residence program. Generator has been around for five years. Its goal is to bring makers together so they can learn from and network with each other. There are $250,000 in tools for members and classes on learning how to use them.

Along with the maker-in-residence program, there's also a jump-start program that will pay you to start a company.

"Things have really changed," said Chris Thompson, the executive director. "It used to be you had to get your engineering degree and spend years becoming very sophisticated to be able to use the advanced fabrication tools that we have. Now, it's very different. You can actually learn how to use those with simple classes and get right in there and start making things."

"I've met so many incredible people who have opened doors and helped me design things differently, see things I wouldn't normally do," said Generator member Clay Mohrman. "That's really kind of the essence of Generator. It's this hub of creativity and science and different backgrounds."

Mohrman is currently doing commission work for the Stowe Mountain Resort.