Makers are never a specific demographic of people. Anyone with a passion for inventing can be a part of the movement, regardless of their background. Tool tech Rick Kehler is a prime example of this phenomenon.
“I have been a ‘Manufacturing’ engineer more than I have been an ‘Electrical’ engineer. I have worked in low and high volume manufacturing jobs in varying roles for about 25 years now” said Kehler, who graduated with a degree in electronic engineering technology from Devry in Kansas City. “By title I am the ‘Manufacturing Manager’ of our production area at Spear Power Systems (in Grandview, MO). However, managing people is one of my simpler tasks.”
Even though Rick went to college for designing electronics, he only held one position for a couple of years where he actually did that. “Other than that, the positions I have held since have been more interesting to me.” Coordinating manufacturing schedules between design, procurement and assembly can definitely be challenging. Kehler’s passion for his work applies to entrepreneurship in more ways than one, with his skills being applicable to the invention process. “A lot of what I do at my day job is coming up with ways to solve problems. This is essentially exactly the same when you’re designing new products for yourself.” continued Kehler.
Before Make48, Kehler had never considered how his hobby playing with 3D printing and design would help him in his day-to-day work, but now they, “have too many to count. I have completely integrated the ability to rapidly make a new tool or fixture in my everyday work. It has been a huge help.”
From just the experience he gained from working with the show, his mastery of 3D printing has become an asset of his that he is able to draw upon frequently. “Now, I know a lot of people who refer to me as an expert in the field. Especially all of my co-workers at my day job.”
When showtime rolls around, and Kehler is being asked one million and one questions by teams, he falls back to his professional training and new talents he’s developed with 3D printing. “I can design and build electronics, including assembly which typically means soldering. I also make furniture and other things out of wood as a hobby. I have built several pieces we have in our house now. I design all of my own stuff, so I use 3D modeling programs such as Fusion 360 to draw up ideas. So I can and do bring all of these talents to the Make 48 Tool tech team,” said Kehler.
He never turns down a complicated roadblock to navigate around. “No matter what they are working on or with, if someone brings me a problem that I don’t happen to be well versed in solving, I will get one of the other Techs that I know who may be a better fit for that particular issue,” said Kehler. His passion for Make48 is rooted deep, as he has been a part of every competitive event from the beginning, “twice as a contestant and as a Tool Tech the other times.”
Rick has been a constant and positive team member of Make48 since the beginning. As someone who volunteers his time, Rick and his expertise have been an integral part at our events. “It is interesting seeing both sides of the event. It’s an amazing event to be a part of, no matter what you’re doing!”