Must it all be about profit?

23 May 2014

Does everything have to be done for profit in the design and engineering world? Al Dean thinks back to lessons learned in the last year and wonders if we all need to step out of the commercial world from time to time

We all need to make a living using our skill sets and knowledge to create. Whether you’re in design, in engineering or manufacturing the reasons you do it are many and varied.

For most (if not the vast majority), design and engineering is a calling, rather than simply a way to generate income. But what potential is there for personal growth if you engage in projects that aren’t directly connected to wealth creation?

Laser cut beauties from the Open Source Beehive project

Readers of DEVELOP3D may recall that, last November, I took part in Museomix in Ironbridge. This was a global event which took place on three continents where folks from the museum world gathered together in chosen sites to hack existing exhibits, create new ones from scratch and explore what’s possible.

I documented my personal experiences back in the December/January issue and a high time was had by all, including, but not limited to, hacking together an occulus rift headset for augmented reality exhibits, designing and building a laser cut Pelton turbine wheel and all manner of other good, clean fun.

What was interesting is that the event saw a diverse team of people come together, with no particular agenda to create new things from scratch. We all funded our own experiences, used our own resources where needed and contributed to a weekend of interest for all involved.

This month, Tanya writes about the Open Source Bee Hive project that’s currently working its way through to completion.

Her passion for beekeeping is well documented in our magazine and it’s something that we both love her for and tease the “crazy bee lady” about endlessly — and judging by the amount of folks that enquired about her bees at D3D Live, we’re not alone.

One of the exhibits we prototyped at Museomix in Ironbridge last November

The project saw crowd funding used to assist with helping the development of a laser cut beehive design that could be downloaded and manufactured anywhere it was needed. The project gained three or more times its funding goal and folks all over the world are building, adapting and creating their own hives to assist with the plight of the humble bee.

If that had occurred in the commercial space, you’d be looking at a project that ran to a much larger cost, and dissemination of the final design wouldn’t have been anywhere near as far reaching.

I’m not going to pretend that we should all give up the day jobs and go and make stuff purely for the betterment of the planet and without recourse to financial recompense but, rather, put forward the idea that, occasionally, doing just that gives us a different type of ‘accomplishment high’.

I know when the various projects we worked on at Museomix came to fruition, the public started to engage with them (and I’ve had news that one prototype is already making its way into full time use at the Ironbridge museums), you got a different feeling back — and it’s quite addictive.

The good news is that if you do indeed fancy spending a weekend helping out with Museomix this year, the plans are starting to come together nicely. It’ll be held over the weekend of the 7-9th of November at Derby If you want to get involved, perhaps sponsor it in some way or just find out more, then either drop me a line or visit the Museomix for more information.

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