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#BackToBasics: from building to making with a one-way ticket!

He started has a builder and now he works with assistive and educational technologies: we met David Pollard, from ireland, and we got on board his “maker journey”!


David Pollard is the co-founder of Learning Tech Labs where almost 3,000 educators, technologists and entrepreneurs keep making an impact on the educational technologies scene.

Q. Hi David! We’re getting closer to the European Maker Week and… what a wonderful opportunity to meet you! We can’t wait to hear about your story: how did you end up joining the #maker movement?

A. Hello everybody, I’m glad to see you! Well, I was first introduced to the maker movement by my dad, who had his own construction company. Building and making were commonplace in our home when my brother and I were growing up in the middle of Ireland. If something was broken, there was always a unique and innovative way to make a solution. I can remember our first home-made sleigh at Christmas which our dogs would pull us through the snow on. I still laugh (and flinch) when I remember the dogs running, sleigh in tow, to greet my aunt as she came to deliver our presents, sweeping her off her feet in their excitement.

Q. What do you most value in the maker environment?

A. The educational benefits of the maker environments is always top of this list for me. As a qualified teacher, I can see the educational benefits of these interactive, social spaces where people can explore their passions, feel safe to fail, and teach and learn from their peers. It excites me to see these interactive ways of learning being introduced to people, especially those who are neurodiverse or non-typical learners. Watching the social interaction that organically occurs when technologies like tiny programmable computers or robots are integrated into learning spaces is priceless. What appears to be a minor moment of magic can help someone to discover a new way to learn or even find new friends. There’s nothing more rewarding.

Q. What’s the maker movement outlook in Ireland?

A. The sky is the limit. Events like Dublin Maker attract almost 10,000 people from all over Ireland to see 100 makers in action and focuses on nurturing a family-friendly environment. Seeing kids turn their grandparents into an electronic drum kit is a wonderful experience and inspires parents to encourage their children to explore the maker movement. Each generation is an essential part of our maker future.

I’ve pulled together some of the most active and innovative makers to hit our target of 20 maker events in 7 days! It is a huge challenge to take on with only a couple of weeks to achieve it, but it says it all that it looks like we’re going to do it! There’s the Maker Meet team of Chris Reina, Pamela O’Brien and Hassan Dabbagh. We also have Colin Keogh on board, an engineer who is one of Forbes 30 under 30. The talent is there and we want to keep building networks and breaking down silos.


Dublin Maker attract almost 10,000 people from all over Ireland to see 100 makers in action and focuses on nurturing a family-friendly environment

Q. In your opinion, what features in your country is more appealing to an innovation-oriented crowd?

A. Strolling through Dublin, structures like Samuel Beckett and James Joyce bridge are visually stunning. If they don’t light a fire inside you, then the people will! We have an incredibly innovative community. I’m co-founder of Learning Tech Labs and we have almost 3,000 educators, technologists and entrepreneurs who are making an impact on the educational technologies scene.

I have a huge passion for accessibility and my ‘real’ job involves creating innovative solutions for people with physical and sensory disabilities. The maker movement is a huge part of a current wave of innovation creating similar solutions in Ireland. Hack Access Dublin is a 3-day free event that I run with Janice Valentine where the community comes together to tackle accessibility challenges in the city. Co-design is a crucial part of this collaborative event.

Q. You seem to have been able to create such a nurturing environment around your community in Ireland. What does your audience look like? Who do you mainly target – students, inventors, or… ?

A. Everyone. I want our events to be as accessible and inclusive as possible.

Q. What do you consider your greatest goal as EMW’s Ambassador?

A. Inspiring people to begin their maker journey! For those of us who are already immersed in the maker environment, there’s no going back – we know how much fun it is! But for someone to take their first step, that’s huge! It doesn’t matter if you are considered young or old, you can join the maker movement today! European Maker Week is the perfect time to jump in head first!

Q. What kind of events are you planning to organize during the EMW?

A. We have a huge spectrum of events to share with our European communities! These range from inclusive and accessible interactive workshops where we’ll trial and test drones to lightning talks where we’ll share what the maker movement is all about. We want to mix it up, reach as many people as possible and, most importantly, have fun!


Find the events near you, join them and share your #EMWeek18 experience with us!

Nominated for the final of Junior Chamber International Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons 2018 in Dublin, David Pollard is a dedicated, enthusiastic leader, innovator and educator committed to providing comprehensive skills and spaces in which to foster development and achievement. Experienced in innovation, learning, teaching, and educational assessment, he is currently leading the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland