Your teen is not into music, sports or books, and the question becomes how to engage them.
Luckily, electrical engineer Jeran Bruce has an answer: Forge Makespace, an engineering workshop.
“I work with young adults to show them real engineering, using real tools,” said Bruce, who is the CEO and founder of Palisades first engineering workshop.
He teaches students how to use power tools, 3D printing, laser cutting and electronics. He works with mechanical design, electricity fundamentals, Arduino and coding.
With Bruce’s help, students have built and modified electric bikes, go karts and even created Arduino controlled potato cannons.
The engineer attended Franklin Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School and Santa Monica High School, before studying mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Once out of school, he worked for Tesla and Teradyne.
He admits that when he was growing up, he would disassemble every mechanical and electrical gadget he could find.
“It was only years later, did I learn to put them back together,” Bruce said. While still at home, he worked with custom lithium-ion batteries, solar panels and batteries to power his room.
After college, working in the field, Bruce discovered the value of hands-on projects.
“Building things, yourself gives you clarity and understanding of what is possible and the best way to do something,” he said. “Doing these types of projects teaches you how things in our world are built and gives a deeper understanding of how they work.”
His business is different from other STEM classes, because he requires students to think creatively, solve problems and use real tools for engineering tasks.
“Most STEM programs don’t give students access to tools and have projects that lack problem solving and critical thinking,” Bruce said. “Even for students that don’t end up as engineers, using one’s hands to build something physical, teaches creativity and problem solving.
“In today’s world of excessive technology, building things from the ground up is a truly satisfying and fulfilling art that I believe less and less students are being exposed to,” Bruce said, noting that projects are student driven “building whatever interests them.”
He said when he teaches elementary school kids about 3D printing, one of the first projects is designing a 3D-printed-balloon powered car. “It challenges students not only to create the 3D model for the car but to think about what design changes will make the car faster/go further.
“Older students without projects will be pushed to learn to integrate electronics and coding into their mechanical design, learning about circuits, electricity, batteries and motors,” said Bruce, who also offers private sessions.
Classes are available each weekend to learn tools in the workshop. Some of Bruce’s classes include: “Intro to 3D Printing,” “Intro to Hand and Power Tools,” “Learning to Use the Laser Cutter” and “Intro to Electricity and Circuits.”
Bruce was asked why hands-on classes have largely been removed from schools.
“Liability may be a part of it, but I believe with the advent of so much technology, people started to devalue hands-on skills and prioritize technology skills such as typing and coding, because those were the jobs that made more money.
“But I think that we are going to hit a turning point, where our world realizes how important it is to work with your hands, and have the ability build physical products yourself,” he said.
Classes are located at 869 Via De La Paz Suite C. Visit: forgemakerspace.com or call (424) 610-6312.