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Buckeye engineer brings Maker Movement to Ohio State

The Maker Movement, an international initiative bringing communities together to create new products and services, is making itself at home on The Ohio State University campus thanks to Buckeye engineer L’Nard Tufts.

After keeping up with the technology-driven, grassroots movement as its spread over the past decade, Tufts decided it was time to establish Ohio State’s own maker club. So he did, launching Dexterity 43210 in August 2014.

“I’m a mechanical engineer, but I also have a strong passion for art and design,” said Tufts, who is minoring in design. “I wanted to create and innovate and do things outside the classroom. I noticed this need from other students as well, so I made a group that would allow them to come together from different backgrounds and majors to create and inspire others.”

Dexterity 43210 membersDexterity 43210 members (from left) Frank Johnson, Christine Bromley, Quentin Bowden, L’Nard Tufts and Gina Torelli help spread the Maker Movement at Ohio State

If the mission of the club sounds broad, it’s because it is—maker clubs set no boundaries, and only ask members to come with a passion to better society and a “Do-it-yourself” attitude. The movement has planted its seeds in schools across the nation, including well-established chapters at Georgia Tech and Arizona State.

Dexterity 43210 has so far garnered the most interest from engineering, art, design and architecture majors in its roughly 25 members, but is open to students from all disciplines.

Tufts plans for the group to enter into a Rube Goldberg competition at COSI in March 2015.

“I’d like to get more exposure for the club and for Ohio State. It’s a national competition so it’ll be really great to showcase talent that exists here,” he said. “It’ll also generate more recognition for makers in the Columbus community.”

Before it can create its elaborate machine for the competition, Dexterity 43210 is working on getting members practice with different design tools and software.

“We’re giving tutorials on using Adobe Illustrator, laser cutting and prototyping different shapes using foam modeling techniques and wood work,” he said.

Tufts has a wealth of experience inspiring and serving others. He’s a member of social service fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, mechanical engineering honorary Pi Tau Sigma and the National Society of Black Engineers.

One of the groups nearest to Tuft’s heart at Ohio State is the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. After attending Bell’s early arrival program before his freshman year, he became involved with the center’s Leadership Institute and student run group, the Band of Brothers. The New York Times highlighted Tufts’ contribution to these groups in a recent article.

Tufts plans to attend graduate school in industrial design after graduation, to learn the skills needed to someday work as a project designer.

The ambitious engineer hopes that Dexterity 43210 will help members excel in their future careers, whatever they may be.

“The difference between this club and other engineering clubs is it’s cross disciplinary, so everyone can bring their own experience and expertise to the project,” he said. “A lot of what you’ll do in the workplace is team oriented, working with people from diverse departments. We really want to model that.”

by Karlie Frank

Tags: Students