I am the future of Alaska

Posted by Zelena Z. Stablo on 3/2/2015 8:00:00 AM

Harry learns how to run a CNC router with teacher Mike Vieira.  

I am the future of Alaska.

On a typical school day Harry can often be found in the wood shop, metal shop, or Fab Lab at Sitka High school. "Fab Lab teaches us how to manufacture our own products ... how to design something in wood or metal or plastic and then to actually fabricate our design -- a real entity, not just a digital entity."
Harry has a high forehead and penetrating eyes, which flash when he talks about his projects. "You learn how to create 3D images of your idea on a computer, and then send those images to a 3D printer, a router, or LASER cutter. Once you learn all that, really anything becomes possible to you. I needed a compass for drawing circles in math class and didn't want to buy one... so I made one on the 3D printer. You can design a house... or turn your favorite character into an action figure. Anything you want. I think that's why a lot of kids like to take these classes."
Harry doesn't come across as the talkative type, but he didn't need any coaxing to wax eloquent about his education. "I take these classes for experience. I want to be an engineer. For me, hands-on applications are vital. That's just how I learn. I think a lot of kids -- maybe most kids nowadays -- are that way. I see myself as being able to do it all -- the design, the fabrication -- everything."
When asked what he sees as the future of Alaska, Harry said: "Alaska is rich in resources -- we have more than enough skilled people here to start a manufacturing program -- but we don't have the job opportunities yet because no one has established an action plan to start a business. I'd love to start a company here -- and make products in Alaska."