Ben Peters fondly recalls his early days of building contraptions and tinkering with tools in the garage workshop on his family’s farm in Wisconsin. Peters’ childhood exploration led him to the realization that he had a passion for building and inventing. Inevitably, this led him straight to the engineering department, where he has been ever since.
Peters, a 24-year-old PhD candidate in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, initiated an ambitious research project in his senior undergraduate year at MIT. His goal: bring to market a little-known machine—a device sometimes seen in science fiction—a reconfigurable pin mold. This project, now nearing its final stages, promises a new breed of personal fabrication machine: rapidly reconfigurable forming tools.
Peters shares a vision held by many engineers and makers, a world where everyone has the tools to easily design, create and share. During high school and early college he spent summers as a Boy Scout camp counselor where he mentored and worked alongside an eager audience of fellow builders; together they created projects ranging from air cannons to windmills, home-made solar panels to high temperature superconductors, all in the backwoods of northern Wisconsin. Peters is currently a teaching assistant for MIT’s famous “2.007,” a hands-on, introductory class on design and manufacturing where each student designs and builds a robot or mechanism to complete a set of challenging tasks.