Interview with Chris Thorpe from IcanMake

Chris Thorpe from the UK is founder and CEO of I CanMake and also YouMagine member. I Can Make creates educational content and resources on 3DPrint&Design for teachers, students and parents. Chris has uploaded a special Valentine’s Day-design in his YouMagine-account and that is a good reason to publish my interview with Chris and his team.

Left to right: Chris Thorpe, Mark Simpkins, James Richards and Dean Vipond (not pictured Becky Fishman).

Tell me something about your background
We’ve worked for publishers (like The Guardian, OUP and Macmillan), for media companies (like the BBC and Channel4), we’ve been part of BAFTA award winning teams and Chris is the former CTO of Moshi Monsters (a service used by 1 in 4 children in the UK).

How did is all start?
At MakerFaires when we took our 3D printed models of trains to Brighton, New York and Wales, we noticed we could have in depth conversations about engineering and 3D printing while the children put together the models, and the information stuck. We spoke to friends at Bethnal Green Ventures who funded us to build a product and have spent the last year developing services for teachers.

What are your Plans for the near future?
We’ve just joined the Wayra UnLtd academy in London (a joint venture between Telefonica and the Cabinet Office which supports social venture start-ups) and we’re preparing to teach our first courses for teachers about using 3D printing in the classroom. Our subscription service for schools full of downloadable models and lesson plans launches in Summer 2015 and we’re working on something fun for the home market in time for the holiday season.

Why is your service important for schools?
Our generation, and some of the YouMagine-audience, grew up playing games and learning to code on home computers like the ZX Spectrum. And collectively as a generation we’ve reframed commerce, media and communication.

Our children’s generation, if they get to play and create with 3D printers, will reform manufacturing, product design, engineering and the environment.

The problem is the grown ups are scared and often don’t know what to do with the machines. The grown ups I’m talking about are teachers and parents, and they’re the gatekeepers. If we can help them we can help to inspire the next generation of inventors and engineers.

How can our readers contact I Can Make in the UK?
Visit the IcanMake website, or talk to Chris on Twitter @icanmakehq.