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Technology Has No Creative Limits In A City Like Sacramento, Says Hacker Lab

Everyone knows what happens when a child excels in math and science. "Be a doctor." "Be a lawyer."

But when Sacramento's Alan Ware heard, "be an engineer," he was intrigued.

"I wasn't really sure what that was," he said. "But I was always taking things apart."

His intellect earned him a place in a residential high school, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and then he was off to Bradley University to study mechanical engineering.

(Photo Courtesy of Alan Ware)

And that choice prepared him for his current position – and interests – as maker space manager CAD/3D printing community chief at Hacker Lab in Sacramento.

Hacker Lab is a collaborative technology space. Hosting meet-ups for tech groups, designers and game developers, it also rents space to startups. Part of supporting this maker space includes education for startups, engineers and designers.

Tell us how education framed your career path and your "toolbox."

"My internships in college and my jobs immediately after were all design and drawing," Ware said. "It was very serendipitous."

Internships included Rockwell Collins, Dynamic Controls, Inc., C&C Group and Johnson Controls, Inc. Ware came to California from New York after he was laid off in 2012 and sought out Hacker Lab. He says being in an environment where skills differ from his feeds his creativity.

What do you enjoy most about your current position, which seems like an ideal combination of teaching and working?

"Being in that environment, that creative space, I got into 3D printing, learning [it], and then I started doing my own stuff," he said. "Now I teach 3D printing, laser cutting and design. You have an idea, but you have to know how to design it."

That "feed" also pushed him toward consulting. In 2013, he worked as maker-in-residence at Sacramento Public Library, assisting staff and patrons alike learning to use the 3D print station, thanks to a $77,000 grant.

"I work around a lot of people who have different skill sets to accomplish projects," Ware said. "It is kind of cool to be in that environment where that is the mindset."

Do you have any advice to aspiring students?

"Don't quit. Mechanical engineering is hard. You have to do a lot of math. The important thing is to just not quit."

Carol Terracina-Hartman is a freelance writer based in Sacramento. She covers all things environment. In 2012, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. See her work at

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