We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. — Richard Feynman
Mark R. Havens
Having been part Corporate Drone, part Entrepreneur, and part Citizen Scientist, I've had an eclectic past. Yet, I've embraced the drive to experiment, tinker, and innovate my entire life. My parents were both public school teachers; my father, who had an entrepreneurial drive since he was a child, ended up retiring as a teacher of Industrial Technology and Science while my mother, who was a little more practical and a little less ambitious, retired from teaching Home Economics. They both set an example by dedicating most of their free time to clubs and communities their entire lives, and think I inherited some of that passion and a desire to share knowledge with others. Between the two of them, I've learned to make everything from candles, ceramics, and clothing, to radios, airplanes, and explosives.
At some point in my early childhood, my passion forked to become mostly dominated by computing, where I continued to experiment and innovate in the world of heaps, stacks, and protocols. At 13, I began to dedicate myself to proving my value to the small business community though freelancing of IT services. At 14, I became engaged in developing the computer hobbyist community, and as a Bulletin Board System Operator, I started the Lower Valley Computer Club in Brownsville, Texas, which eventually grew to over 100 members. This early passion, combined with support from friends and business associates, drove me to incorporate my first consulting company at the age of 19, which I later sold 1998, just prior to the dot-com collapse.
Some years later, I started a new company, Virtual Salvage, which helped to pioneer the independent monetization of virtual economies such as in the online game, EverQuest. At the time, these were untested waters. Nonetheless, while partnered with IGE (Internet Gaming Entertainment) and other similar companies, I made use of my early reverse engineering experience, while arming myself with a primitive understanding of machine learning, and churned out software that I used to help supply virtual goods valued at over $1 Million USD to tens of thousands of gaming enthusiasts throughout the world.
In 2010, I spent over a year applying my strengths so that Dallas Makerspace could get off the ground with lofty ambitions. While I was the first to introduce DMS to 3D printing, drones, and aquaponics, I actually spent most of my time doing my fair share of Dallas Makerspace's initial fundraising, recruiting, mentoring, policy making, culture driving, and public relations, as well as most of the grown-up paperwork stuff that involved contract signing, lawyering, and personal risk-taking that very few others were willing to do at the time. I also did a lot of the initial IT work, which proved to be much easier to delegate once we got our first physical location. Back then, we loathed the pretentiousness of titles, formal positions, and anything that resembled authority. I miss those days, because even though we always had backlash and infighting, we were a true do-ocracy that never had to ask for permission to make things happen. But we were also driven to become the largest Makerspace in the world. As chaos and freedom gave way to order and rules, I think the Dallas Makerspace we have now was well worth the cultural sacrifice. However, I think there are plenty of opportunities to make things even better.
Today, I'm fortunate to have been awarded a fellowship (mirror) to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science, while also being funded by the Air Force. I believe that staying involved in a community of like-minded people can greatly assist me in my research. Like other members of Dallas Makerspace, I want to make, create, hack, learn, and discover. But more importantly, I want to share my discoveries with others.
Social Media Links
- Affective Computing
- Machine Learning
- Information Security
- Mechanical Puzzles
- Physical Computing
- High Altitude Ballooning
- Ham Radio
- Fusion Power
- Hardware Emulation