I spent my childhood taking things apart and putting them back together again…until I realized one day you could actually get paid to do that and I became an engineer. That my sons Tripp and Garrett turned out to be equally fascinated by how things work gave me a good excuse to dive back into the world of why, and their mom and I have had fun tagging along as they drag us to every kind of exhibition and competition they can get their hands on. This I’m serving as a judge at one of their favorite events: the NYC Science & Engineering Fair, which is a qualifying event for the national Intel Science Award.
I studied aerospace and mechanical engineering so I can help explain some things to the boys, but what’s humbling is the speed with which the tables are turning. I know Japanese and a few coding languages, but Tripp is picking up new coding languages as quickly as he snapped up Mandarin Chinese. Musical instruments seem similarly easy for him; my lifelong attempt at guitar has been outdone by Tripp’s newfound shredding skills (power chords are a favorite) and by his nimble conquering of piano these past four years. Interestingly, these aptitudes are totally in line with a “gear head” brain; code drives all of them, and I enjoy watching how Garrett’s empathy-driven brain seems to complement Tripp’s skillset. Garrett sees Tripp’s invention and asks: how will this make people’s lives better? How can we actually launch this? Philo Farnsworth invented the TV, and even successfully defended his patent for it against his rich and cunning nemesis, RCA’s David Sarnoff. But the man with street smarts out-strategized the young inventor, forcing the clock to run out on Philo’s patent while Sarnoff blocked access to crucial materials. With Garrett at his side, Tripp’s future inventions will always be protected and always find their audience; no one understands the art of strategy, context and persuasion like Garrett. I like to think of them as the “Two Steves” with Garrett serving as Jobs to Tripp’s Wozniak. It took both men (and brain wiring) to invent Apple. I’m just the guy offering the garage and a few tools. So: the apprentices are quickly turning into the masters and I couldn’t be happier to learn what they’re discovering on their own. I hope you like some of what you see here as well! —Arthur