I Don’t Live in the STEAM Building


Trevor Krumrey, Contributor

But my friends like to joke that I do, and reasonably so. Between my free period, TA period, lunch break, and engineering class, I spend more than half my time on campus in the engineering lab, working on projects, tinkering, running machinery, and helping other students. 

Why? It’s fun. Since I was old enough to hold a screwdriver, I’ve been taking apart and tinkering with anything I can get my hands on. The first money I earned was from fixing and reselling broken laptops with my dad. I made a few dollars… and immediately spent it all on a fish.

I’ve always been curious about how things work, and I often disassemble broken tools, devices, and appliances to inspect the insides and salvage components like motors and ball bearings for use in future projects.

Why? Because it’s fun. I never intended to learn anything, but as often happens, I ended up learning anyway. I learned how to solder before I could ride a bike, and I built my own computer before I could drive.

I still haven’t figured out why I find tinkering and making so fun, but near as I can tell, it’s the hands-on aspect and creative control that I enjoy. The direct influence of my decisions and actions, combined with the open-ended problem-solving nature, means that successes are very rewarding, and failures always ask to be adjusted and tested again.

Because of this, when I was scheduling my sophomore year courses at SR, and I was offered an open spot in the Academy of Engineering and Technology (AET), signing up was a no-brainer. But then Covid stopped the world in its tracks, so I decided not to sign up, postponing my enrollment by a year to take it in person.

By my Junior year, we were back to school, wearing masks and social distancing. This didn’t stop us from building our projects in AET. We built miniature bridges, model rockets, and catapults throughout the year. Some of my projects were successful, and some flew in loop-de-loops before crash landing (sorry for the scare, Mr. Temple!). 

This year, signing up for the second year of AET was again an easy decision. We also got a new engineering lab this year, which meant lots of moving, unpacking, and setting up to do, which I helped out with in my two free periods. 

During one of those free periods, I signed up to be a teacher’s aide for the first-year engineering class I had taken the year before. That’s how I spent over half my time at school working on projects, running machines, organizing and cleaning the lab, and helping students.

Why? You guessed it, it’s fun. It is enjoyable to do in my free time, and I get to work with exciting tools like 3D printers and CNC machines and build interesting projects like RC cars and model rockets. I never intended to learn anything from my tinkering, it was just a fun hobby.

However, I ended up learning a lot, and thanks to the skills and experience I gained from my tinkering, I got the opportunity to intern at a local industrial design firm, designing and building prototypes using tools and techniques just like those in my engineering class.

Now, I am going to study aerospace engineering in college. Putting time into what I enjoyed ended up turning my hobby into a career path.