UAT Student Brett Butler’s experiences at Disney theme parks, resorts and cruises inspired him to join the maker movement. His dream job? “Working at Disney as an Imagineer!” The term Imagineer combines imagination and engineer. Brett definitely fits that description.
Brett likes to make stuff, which makes him a perfect fit for the Digital Maker and Fabrication (DMF) program here at UAT. Since he arrived on campus in the fall of 2017, Brett has spent hours tinkering away in the UAT Maker Lab. He loves playing with the laser cutter and Formlabs high resolution stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer.
Brett has been playing around with animatronics for years. He is currently building an animatronic elephant that can talk, blink and move its trunk. When Brett was in high school, he participated in the Technology Student Association’s animatronics national championship. His team created a fully animatronic bird that they 3D printed at school. “It had feathers, moved and completely worked,” Brett exclaimed.
Brett’s friends have been pestering him to make another awesome creation using one of the 3D printers at UAT. He accepted their challenge and 3D-printed a working ukulele! Then his girlfriend told him that she wanted a violin.
“I started off with a 3D-modeled violin that I used a photo reference for. From there, I printed it, checked it, printed, checked, and kept repeating until it worked,” Brett explained. “I’m actually going to have to reprint this once because it’s still not exactly perfect,” he added.
Brett turns to his fellow Digital Maker and Fabrication peers and his favorite professor, Joseph Horen, for inspiration and collaboration. “I think DMF is one of the coolest programs here. You can create something and have it in front of you. You can hold it. I think that’s amazing,” he said.
Students in the DMF program graduate with hands-on experience in produce design, product development, industrial design, digital fabrication, 3D modeling and embedded systems programming. Brett appreciates the project-based curriculum and capitalizes on Professor Horen’s offers to explore a topic or problem and then develop a project or solution and well, make it. “Joseph is always helping me figure out problems that I am having, and he’s helped me with some of the electronic components of the elephant,” Brett said.
Big dreams push Brett to keep creating. “UAT is a cool place where I can make just about anything.” Brett will undoubtedly continue to make cool stuff throughout his time at UAT.