Cooperative News

A maker of things

PEC employee uses technology to design inventive, electronic objects

It all started with a 3-D printer. PEC Quality Analyst Karl Tinsley, who has been on our information technology team for 18 years, bought one about three years ago out of little more than curiosity — he’s always been interested in technology, design and innovation.

Initially, he didn’t know where to start with the thing, let alone how to operate it. But he was soon designing and printing plastic objects of all shapes and sizes, both practical and ornamental. The more he toyed with the printer, the more his creative juices began to flow, leading him far beyond the printer itself down a path of invention.

“[3-D printing] led me to the maker world,” Tinsley said, “which is basically a community of people who are creating new and exciting things with technology. I’m totally fascinated by it all.”

PEC Quality Analyst Karl Tinsley
PEC Quality Analyst Karl Tinsley

In addition to the printers (he now has five), Tinsley uses microcomputers to make creations that reside at the intersection of technology and design: an Etch A Sketch that draws images on its own, a sand table that draws different designs with a magnetic ball and a staff that displays many different patterns and colors of LED lights. And those are just a few of his favorites.

“I would describe the things I make as something you would see at a science fair,” Tinsley explained. “When I see something cool that inspires or interests me, I try to make it myself, especially if it’s something that not many people have seen. It’s extremely gratifying to say ‘I built that’ and see people’s reactions.”

Sand table can create design
Tinsley’s sand table can create an entire design in a matter of minutes.

One of Tinsley’s most impressive projects is currently in the works. Based on a design he found on the internet, “Levitating Water,” is a small device that will have strobe lights on both sides of a waterfall, which will create the illusion that it stops the flow of water and makes it move up and down the waterfall. It may sound impossible, but with the right tools and vast imagination, Tinsley can do it — and he wants everyone to know that they can do it, too.

“Clearly, I’m a big nerd,” Tinsley joked. “But seriously, there’s no better time than now to create. What was the impossible is now possible. I encourage everyone to act on their ideas because you won’t regret it. It’s a great feeling sharing a part of you with the world.”

Want to learn from the man himself? Follow Tinsley’s YouTube channel for a behind-the-scenes look at his work.