Don’t be afraid to fail!
Making stuff is rarely a straight line from start to finish. You will fail and make mistakes in small or large ways before it works. It can be simple things such a buying the wrong size screw. It can be highly annoying things like breaking your 3D printed part when you try to remove it from the bed, so you have to reprint it and wait another day. Or you may realize that that your idea breaks the laws of physics and could never work.
This can be very frustrating, but remember, “failure” is part of the process. It doesn’t make you a “failed” person. Iteration is a natural part of design. You try something, and if it doesn’t work, you change it and try it again. And if it still doesn’t work, you change it again. That’s why making stuff sometimes is so hard work. Or as I like to say it: “Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who work their butts off and never give up”.
There is a famous quote from Thomas Edison saying that “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was developed in 1001 steps”. I don’t know if Edison really ever said that, but it is most likely true that it took him at least 1000 attempts before he made it work.
My friend Amy Elliot explains the importance of “failing” in her TED talk. Amy has a PhD in mechanical engineering (just like I do), is a 3D printing expert at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TV host for “Outrageous Acts of Science”, and in my opinion a true engineering superhero! Watch her TED talk below.