Kim Brand cringes when students, and even adults, wilt in defeat. To Brand, “I can’t!” reveals lack of creativity and persistence—skills increasingly required by employers but too often lost a generation or two ago as schools phased out shop classes and directed students to purely academic tracks.

Brand, with the help of Thomas P. Miller & Associates, has started a company to bring back shop classes under the newfangled term of maker spaces. Classrooms organized by 1st Maker Space are not your parents’ school shop. They’re equipped to the gills with high-tech equipment like 3-D printers and laser cutters. The equipment can turn out a checker board or a robot.

1st Maker Space offers a maker ecosystem to school districts ranging from consulting to teacher training curriculum to the equipment itself. The company has a presence in more than 100 districts and is formulating plans to place turnkey mobile maker spaces on school properties.

Brand, who spent a good deal of his career in technology after training as an engineer and attorney, adamantly believes hands-on education teaches skills that are difficult to attain with pens, paper and computers.

Maker spaces excel in teaching how to succeed through failure, he says. Maker students invent an idea, test the idea, watch the idea fail in practice, then refine the idea and repeat the cycle until it works. Failures are regarded as teachable moments, not career-ending episodes. Experienced maker students seldom panic or freeze when confronted with challenges.

Ultimately, students build self-confidence, and self-confidence leads to feeling empowered. Empowered people, Brand argues, make fantastic employees.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates supports new workforce development strategies including the integration of maker spaces. To learn more, contact TPMA.