City of PAE Libraries
gave the maker community a challenge to build a robot from junk at our library in Greenacres using a small grant. Not only did we get an amazing team who achieved this challenge together, but what unfolded was an unexpected human story of resilience, friendship, grit, and a demonstration of what can be achieved when people come together.
For most people building a robot would be challenging, but building a working robot from discarded computers and printers is even harder. Imagine building such a robot on a trestle table in the middle of a public library, while also living with disability or managing mental health.
Aaron Spehr an electronic and software enthusiast was very keen to take on this challenge. Aaron was born with Cerebral Palsy, but this has never held him back. To get the job done, Aaron convinced Robyn Willison to help him put together a team of hackers who could work with him and apply to PAE Libraries to accept the Junkbot challenge.
Robyn is a well-known LinuxSA personality, member of Linuxchix, ITShare advocate and member of the makerspace community. She is currently studying electronics engineering at TAFE. Another member of Aaron’s team was David Zerk. a software and electronics engineer, also a hackerspace enthusiast. The fourth member was Philip Kocent, an electronics engineer, who currently works as an aged care nurse and is a retro computing and amateur radio enthusiast.
The experience of the Junkbot challenge created friendships, through working together and sharing their skills with Aaron to do something interesting and worthwhile in the community.
Aaron’s aim is to see more people with disability take up interests in electronics and coding as a career or hobby. Aaron has been an active member of
and advocate for the Makerspace community. He wants to ensure people with disability are included and an extra place is kept open to welcome anyone regardless of their background and walk of life.