After 20 years as a successful neuroscientist and neuroengineer, I realized that I had become a manager, no longer doing what I love most: making things. I was busy in my office writing grant applications and going to meetings, while the grad students and post-docs in my lab were doing all the fun stuff: researching how brain circuits work by interfacing live brain cells to computers. I took a two-year sabbatical in 2014-2015, exploring the Maker Movement in Seattle, Ireland, and the San Francisco Bay Area. I toured and worked in many makerspaces, and went to loads of maker fairs. There, I realized that makers are my people. Although things were going very well for me as a professor at my top-ranked biomedical engineering department shared by Georgia Tech and Emory University, I decided to close my research lab and become a maker and freelancer full-time. I love hands-on teaching, especially when it involves designing, inventing, making, and fixing things. At Georgia Tech, I won awards from my university and from the University System of Georgia for my approach to motivating students by getting them involved in real-world projects — I wrote a book about my project-based approaches to teaching. My Irish wife, Mairead, and I had such a good time touring makerspaces across Ireland during the summer of 2015, that we decided to return to her homeland for good. We now live in Castleblayney, County Monaghan, which is about an hour’s drive northwest of Dublin. I still do scientific consulting and writing, in addition to all my woodworking, electronics, and coding maker activities.
- My Research site at the Georgia Institute of Technology
- My Google Scholar profile
- My scientific consulting page
- My Linkedin profile: www.linkedin.com/in/steve-m-potter-phd-73b33198
My sister, Crista Smyth, also does creative woodworking. Check out the amazing things she does with driftwood! She makes custom handrails, drawer-pulls and sculptures inspired by Nature’s Hand.
- Email: steve at stevempotter.tech
- Phone: oeightfive twohundredfortythree onethousand and one
- Mailing address: Tara House, Tullyharnett, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, Ireland A75 YD862