This month, we’re bringing you an extra special Maker Spotlight featuring one of PopUp Play’s very own makers: Amelia!
As a master maker with quite a bit of expertise to share regarding mechanical engineering, we thought we’d give you all a peek behind the scenes of a day in the life of a PopUp Play maker.
Q: What is your role in PopUp Play?
Amelia: In a startup you wear many hats. I’m the co-founder, COO, head of physical product design (as opposed to software design), and Art Director.
Q: Would you say this is a “traditional” career for a mechanical engineer?
Amelia: This isn’t a “traditional” career for a mechanical engineer, but there are tons of careers mechanical engineers can pursue, so it’s a broad occupation. I chose to pursue product design, where I learned about materials: metals and plastics, how things fit together, and how products are made. Other mechanical engineers end up working on anything from air conditioners to jet airplane engines. You can even become a patent attorney after studying mechanical engineering.
My role at PopUp Play is different than a normal engineering job because I do a lot of different things each day. I get to touch the sales and marketing strategy, which makes me think about how people use our product and why they like it, what it does for them. I am also the Art Director, which is fun for me, since I’ve always loved art and design. I get to work with artists and figure out what the visual style of PopUp Play should be!
Q: What kind of skills do you use in a day-to-day basis?
Amelia: I think the biggest skill engineering teaches you is problem solving. And that skill doesn’t just apply to engineering. You learn how to look at complex problems, like how do we land a man on the moon, and figure out how to break it down into smaller and smaller pieces until you can solve it.
Q: What do you think it takes to be an all-star mechanical engineer?
Amelia: I think the most important thing you need to be an all-star mechanical engineer is curiosity. You need to be interested in asking why something works the way it does. And then think of a better way for it to work.
Q: What’s your favorite material to work with as an engineer?
Amelia: Fiberboard (what our PopUp Play castles and gingerbread houses are made from) is a great engineering material. It’s light, strong, and easy to work with. I’m a person who loves to touch and feel what I’m working on, so all through my career, I’ve loved building fiberboard prototypes.
I have always loved working on the computer for a little while, then taking what I designed on the computer and testing it out in the real world with fiberboard (and maybe some string, tape, glue and sticks). You can get such a good feel for how something will actually work when you build it yourself.
Q: What would you say to any kids aspiring to be mechanical engineers?
Amelia: Ask lots of questions. Take things apart to see how they work. You can learn so much by figuring out how things work, then asking why they work the way they do.
The PopUp Play team is grateful for our Chief Creator and all that she’s achieved this year! From creating two new playscape models and fitting together all the pieces just right for optimal, kid-friendly fun to brainstorming new ways for kids to play even beyond fiberboard, Amelia’s pushing the limits of physical design. And we can’t wait to share with you all what she has planned for the year to come!