Hi, my name is Daniel Mozes, and I am nominating myself for the WIYB 2017 challenge. I live in Baltimore, MD with my wife and one-year-old daughter. Currently, I work part-time as a technician for a company called Airphoton. We are a small hi-tech startup that designs and manufactures weather surveying equipment. My main responsibility at my job is to make sure the CNC doesn’t blow itself up. I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far. I also spend a significant amount of time making other components by hand and/or doing final assembly.
Now, I didn’t get this job because I had formal training as an engineer or anything like that. In fact, if you would have asked me what a machinist was only a couple of years ago I would have told you that it’s the name of a movie starring Christian Bale. I grew up in a community where getting a “white-collar” job is the norm and jobs that required using your hands were looked at as something that you just hired other people to do. This didn’t really bother me all that much but I did like making random things with bits of material I found lying around. Anyway, I went to school for accounting and eventually got my degree but it just wasn’t satisfying to me in any way. I didn’t know where to look but I knew that there must be something else out there for me.
The first time I used a power tool was when I decided to build a gazebo of sorts to propose to my wife in. It sounded insane but it was the best idea I could come up with and I just figured how hard could it be already. Well, that turned out to be quite a success and that’s when I knew that making things from scratch was where I wanted to be. I started watching tons of Youtube videos from all different kinds of makers as I tried to absorb as much information as possible so that I could make my own things. Over the course of several years, I really feel that I have learned a tremendous amount about different design ideas and production tricks. At some point, I stumbled across Keith Rucker’s Youtube channel and discovered what machining is. Up until that point, I was kind of hesitant to work with metal, mostly because I thought that metal was something that was made by a huge company and was basically “uneditable” by individuals. When I realized that this was not at all the case I immediately started poring over the troves of machining videos put out by the likes of the two Keiths, Tubalcain, Tom Lipton, and Adam Booth. Since I first discovered these channels I have not missed a single episode and I have made significant headway in going through their backlogs. To me, there’s just something so incredibly mesmerizing about being able to machine a part to incredibly tight tolerances and do it with such repeatability.
Anyway, I absorb all this information but I haven’t yet been able to implement any of it, which is driving me crazy! I want to finally start using my hands to make custom furniture or to repair some old antique or something like that. I want to get right to it but I just don’t have a workshop of my own to do any of this work in. That is why, with my wife’s permission, I have dipped into our savings to buy the materials to build my own 24’ x 24’ workshop in my wife’s parents’ backyard. We were saving that money to eventually buy a house but my wife saw that I just couldn’t be happy without the ability to make things by myself so she convinced me to go through with this and not worry about the money. I spent some time working with a construction company and I moonlight as a handyman so I’m fairly confident that I can complete this project entirely by myself. I started construction on November 8th and hope to finish before New Year’s. I’ve been buying up lots of tools on Craigslist for the past year and a half and have been storing them in a shed on my in-laws’ property so I can start working as soon as my shop is done. The only tools I don’t have yet are a mill and a lathe, but that’s mostly because I have nowhere to store them yet.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself why I should be chosen for the WIYB challenge. Well, my dream job is not to make furniture, or build things with my hands, but to teach the children in my community these skills which they would otherwise never learn. Like I said earlier, the subculture I’m a part of doesn’t really know much about things that aren’t “white collar”. I don’t know anyone in my community who has ever heard of a machinist or know what machinists do. Some people know some basics of woodworking but that’s basically where it ends. I feel that this dearth of knowledge is a really sad thing and I want to do my part to alleviate that. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me that future generations learn how to do these things so much as that they learn that these things actually exist and are a part of our everyday lives whether we acknowledge it or not. I want the kids in my community to get excited when they figure out the sheer genius that went into designing the many machines that spurred on the Industrial Revolution. I want these children to gaze in wonder at a modern car engine after they fully understand what processes go into making such a marvel of modern technology a possibility.
My dream of dream jobs is to open a museum much like the one Keith Rucker volunteers for in my own community so that the generations to come can use older technology as inspiration to create their own modern marvels. I want the children of my community to seriously consider a “blue collar” job instead of just automatically expecting to go into something like accounting or law like I did. If I am chosen as the recipient for this challenge then I will use everything that I have received to educate children (and adults, if they’re interested) in my area about how relatively simple mathematical and geometrical concepts can be used to create precision parts. I will teach them about just how much force a steel bolt, which is ultimately one of the simple machines, can handle before it finally yields and why that helps us create the modern world we see around us. I will teach them about how the simple idea of ratios between the circumferences of different circles can be used to slow something down or speed it up, or, as in the case of dial calipers, allow for incredibly precise measurements. These things excite me immensely specifically because they are so conceptually simple and elegant yet have so many practical uses. It just blows me away every time and I want to share that excitement and enthusiasm with whomever is willing to listen.
I still need to expand my knowledge base, but, more importantly, I need to gain more hands-on experience. This box of machinist tools will help me do just that, and it will also eventually help me educate future generations. Thank you for your consideration.