Young Tinkerer Embodies an Inventor’s Self Confidence and Do-It-Yourself Know How
DEARBORN - Innovation is a crucial ingredient for making progress in business or in the community. The innovations and inventions of Henry Ford are legendary, but each generation must develop its own inventors to keep moving forward.
“Henry Ford knew more than most how satisfying and rewarding the invention process can be,” said Elena Ford, vice president, global dealer and consumer experience, Ford Motor Company. “His innovations changed the world, and at Ford, his inspiration continues to drive our company, our products and our commitment to the community.”
As part of the celebration marking the 150th birthday of Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company Fund gave inventors of all ages an opportunity to test their mettle in a special competition at Maker Faire Detroit – the Henry Ford Maker Challenge. Some 400 people entered the contest and Elena Ford, great-great granddaughter of Henry Ford, presented awards in three categories – Sustainability, Hands-On Learning and Young Tinkerer. Each winner was awarded a $500 cash prize and $2,000 for their choice of charity from a list provided by Ford Motor Company Fund.
Jonathan Jacobs of The Robot Garage took the Hands-On Learning prize and Drew Spencer of ZeroBase won for Sustainability.
The Young Tinkerer is 14-year old Kyle Baker of Hillsdale, Michigan. Kyle pulled an old mini bike out of his grandfather’s barn and rode it around a bit before deciding something wasn’t right.
“I got to work on it and tore it down to the frame, got a new motor for it, stretched the frame and turned it into a three wheeler,” explained Kyle. “I just love the fact that I can get into something, get my hands dirty and make something better.”
Kyle calls his creation “Old Blue” and said it took skill, energy and a little green to get it rolling.
“He baled hay, did lawn work, any work that anybody needed he did it to buy parts,” said Lara Baker, Kyle’s mom. “My husband gave up half of the garage so Kyle could do his work. If anything needs fixing, he does it.”
Kyle selected the DAV to receive the charity donation because his grandpa served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Kyle says he’s considering military service as a way to pay for the engineering degree he hopes to earn one day, and he doesn’t want to be saddled with student loans.
Innovation will always be an essential element of any celebration of Henry Ford’s legacy. Ford Fund supports numerous initiatives that promote innovation in education including Ford Next Generation Learning and Ford Blue Oval Scholars.
For Kyle, it’s off to high school after the excitement of a winning project, the accolades of fellow inventors and tinkerers, and getting an award from Elena Ford.
“When I won it was an amazing feeling. It was awesome,” said Kyle. “And it was really cool that people would comment on how amazing the project was. It was even better than the money award.”
“The stuff people said to him was such a big confidence builder,” said Lara. “It was such an awesome experience. There is no doubt he is going great places someday.”