Coalesce Teaches Creativity as Well as Tools

“I get twenty-one-year-old seniors who can code, write anything for CNC, but don’t know whether to use a screwdriver or a hammer in the shop,” says Jenny Blacklock, teaching associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Along with Greg VanderBeek (ME) and BJ Titchenal (Ne’er-Do-Well), Blacklock runs Coalesce, a design, fabrication and maker education space in Boulder, CO.

“I’m on the other side,” says Greg, who has a huge tattoo on his upper-right arm of books and a bicycle chain, and started out as a hydrological engineer before retreating to his garage to build custom choppers. “We get architects and contractors coming to us with fabrication ideas, but then we’re like, man, you gotta do this with a bolt and not a welded joint unless you want to cut through the back wall to get to it!”

Among other projects, Coalesce collaborates with artist and foodie Jen Lewin on projects like the laser harp. My kids (6 and 8) did a week of camp last summer at the Coalesce Academy of Manual Arts & Design where they learned to plan, measure, cut and drill on the way to building Plinko boards that the kids still play with in the evenings.

Coalesce also built most of the huge wooden signs you’ll see tomorrow pointing your way to the Boulder Mini Maker Faire! Thanks to Greg et al for chipping in to help MAKE the faire!


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