We <3 the MakerBot Operators: Sylvan Heumann

Sylvan Heumann, or Syl by those who know him, has always been at the forefront of designing, using, and adapting new technology. Like many MakerBot operators, he was born “with an intense curiosity about how stuff works.” This insatiable appetite just had to be fed. And fed. And fed. From acquiring his Ham Radio license in 1950, to building his very own computer (IMSAI 8080) in 1976, he’s never shied away from the latest and greatest. It’s no surprise that he just added a Thing-O-Matic (assembled it himself of course) to his workshop.

Syl’s journey into the world of fabrication did not begin in school. Studying Business Administration, and pursuing a career outside of the sciences, Syl relied on his own devices to get his creative fix; he built up his workshop, which in addition to his Thing-O-Matic, consists of a beautiful lathe, a CNC mill, electronic test equipment, and a plethora of other gizmos and gadgets. He’s taken on photography, boating, and even flying.

Over the years Syl has designed and built engines, argon lasers, and countless other projects, but his long term interest has been telescope design and accessories. He’s taken some absolutely gorgeous images of the moon with a telescope and digital camera.

So what does he have in store for his MakerBot?

[My] main motivation in building the Bot was to understand the technology. But I have amazed some of my friends with a few of the items from Thingiverse! Right now, I am making Coke can holders for a friend’s boat.

Less than two weeks ago, Syl turned 86 years young (can anyone top that?), and when he’s not working on his next project, he can be found cruising down the highways of California in his Ferrari F430. What does he have to say to all of those tinkerers, hobbyists, inventors, and designers out there?

My advice – when something doesn’t work or you don’t understand it, never quit trying. Put it aside for a short while, but come back and try again until you dominate. Never shy away from getting help. The satisfaction will erase all the frustration!

It’s quite clear that Syl has put an enormous amount of time into educating himself and pushing the limits of DIY. He is an inspiration to us all and we thank Syl for being a MakerBot Operator and friend to the community!

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5 Comments so far

  • Ethan
    September 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    What an enormously cool set of accomplishments, I can only hope I have half that lift at 86.

  • noazark
    September 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Syl, you just earned a place in my pantheon of heroes.

  • Don
    September 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I agree with Ethan. I plan to get one of these machines as soon as I can. I’m a few weeks short of 61.

  • uncledj
    September 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    you are old, not mean you are mentally old, we still can be active and enjoy things we like, we can also be creative as well. we just aware what things changing around us, and how to extend it

  • GeoDelGonzo
    September 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    My dad is 72 and he wants to build another house. I guess this shows that it’s our passions that make us youthful at heart, we keep that fired stoked and we’ll keep on burning.


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