Inside an Internship at Fluxspace
Inside an Internship at Fluxspace
Inside an Internship at Fluxspace
by VJ Taverna
VJ Taverna is a junior mechanical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh. He is our longest serving intern, having started working with Fluxspace in early 2021. He pushes the limits of our 3D printers and laser cutters every day.
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In November of 2019, I was a senior in high school. My innovation class, Nova Lab, took a trip to this new hub for educational innovation and entrepreneurship—Fluxspace. The vast playground brought endless visions for the future. I knew I wanted to return. Originally, I planned to return to Fluxspace during my high school’s career study; this, of course, never happened. In 2020, I spent the majority of the year isolated, as many others did. After my first semester of college, I wanted to find a job for Winter break, so I emailed “Mr. Fluxspace” himself, Ryne Anthony. He explained that internships had slowed since covid but mentioned that things were starting to look up. After a few emails and phone calls, we decided that I would start in January of 2021. The plan only lasted 2 weeks, but as Pitt (my college) announced its covid plans for that semester, it became clear that classes would be online, so I decided to stay home and continue work at Fluxspace.

In my first stint at Fluxspace, I worked from January 2021 to August 2021. On my very first day, I walked in and Ryne tasked me with teaching myself how to use our new CNC router. I was flabbergasted. Why would this Makerspace connoisseur trust me—an 18 year old boy with no training or experience—with a huge 2 foot by 4 foot machine? I cracked open the manual and got to work. Quickly, I found my footing with the machine (without breaking it!) and started making some quick projects. Seeing my progress, Ryne gave me more difficult tasks which proved to be important to larger Corbett initiatives. I made signs, giant letters, and cut down pieces of acrylic that were too large for our tools. Soon after, I was tasked with learning to use our 3D printers and laser cutters, as well as exploring the limits of these machines. What were these machines capable of? With all the work I was doing, the semester flew by. Summer went by even faster. In the blink of an eye, I had filled tables and drawers with 3D prints, laser cuts, and carved blocks of wood. I felt confident in the makerspace.

As August approached, the time came for real college. I packed my bags and left Fluxspace. My semesters went smoothly, and I found my work at Fluxspace to be incredibly valuable to my learning. The hands-on assembly skills gave meaning and life to the information I was learning. The following Summer, I returned to Flux. I spoke with Ryne, and we decided that I would work more hours this time around. With my newly obtained knowledge that I garnered through my time at Pitt, I felt like I had so much to do. It was as if Pitt gave me knowledge with no base, and Flux provided me with the tools to build everything that came to mind as I learned. In my second stint at Fluxspace, I designed all my own parts for 3D printing and taught myself a new CAD software, which I have documented in my other blog posts. I felt the experience of my first few months propelling me and giving me the confidence to pursue knowledge that I sought. Fluxspace has taught me so much in my time here, and I can see the impact that I’ve had on it.

Today is my last day at Fluxspace. It’s 4pm, and I get done at 5. Next Summer I’ll be working at my co-op, and the following summer I will have graduated. I guess that means this is the end of my internship at Flux. I’ll be back in some capacity for sure, but things will be different. For those of you reading this, I hope you enjoy whatever time you spend at Fluxspace as much as I did.

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