Rising second-year student Luke Sharp was sold on attending Case Western Reserve University the moment he took a tour of think[box]. “I saw this amazing place and the people and the atmosphere—it kind of spelled out for me that I wanted to be at a school where there were people who wanted to make things and work together,” says Sharp, who is a mechanical engineering major from Lancaster, Ohio. Last school year, Sharp spent much of his free time at think[box]—so much that this summer, he was asked to work as a student technician. Read more about Luke Sharp.
Was there a makerspace at your high school for you to tinker on projects?
No—we had nothing like that. The first time I went to think[box] was the first time I’d ever seen the big laser cutters or any of the kinds of machines we have here. The only machine I had ever used before was a Cricket paper cutter. But that was nothing compared to what we have here, so this was just a whole new world to me.
How much of your free time during the school year were you spending at think[box]?
A lot—enough that they hired me eventually. During the year, I would come in and work on little projects and gifts for people just so that I could learn all the different machines.
What was your gateway project to think[box]?
I tried to make a coaster set out of wood using the laser cutter because I had never used the laser cutter before. But that first project was…bad. When I was making them, it smelled like a small campfire in the entire room. It was bad. And then I decided to use acrylic for the same project, which smells even worse. But I kept trying and eventually, I got there. Once I made a coaster set, I realized that I could design a file, put something together and make a physical object.
What are you working on currently?
I love working with acrylic, so I’ve made better coaster sets, emblems and ornaments—things like that. But my next idea is to make a puzzle box where there’s a marble inside of a box that you can rotate and twist, and eventually, when you push the marble through the puzzle, then you can open the box. So I’ve been doing a lot of sketching and working with springs so that I can make that idea a reality.
You’re also a tutor in the community?
Last school year, I participated in CCEL Serves and tutored students at Cleveland Heights High School and the Cleveland Heights Library. The students were in second grade through high school and I tutored on a range of subjects, usually one-on-one. A lot of kids would come week after week, so you get to know them. It was a good experience.
What’s been your favorite thing about being a part of the think[box] community and working there?
I enjoy making my own projects, but I also love learning from the people here and from the visitors. Some of them know way more than we do. Now I’m able to help out people who are new to think[box]—they’re like I was when I’d first come here and they’ve never seen a laser cutter or a 3-D printer. It’s great being able to help people out and to bounce ideas off of them. It’s also fun to guide people through their own ideas because sometimes, they never would have considered using a particular piece of equipment or better, they find a way to use a machine in a way that no one would ever think of. I appreciate that different perspective. It’s an exciting community.