Nate Ball ’05, SM ’07 on Creativity, Engineering, and Beatboxing

by Amy Marcott on January 11, 2011

in Alumni Life, Engineering, Modern Geekhood

It’s not every day that you hear an accomplished engineer beatbox in the middle of a presentation about creativity and engineering. That’s part of why alumnus Nate Ball’s presentation at an independently-hosted TED event in Brooklyn is so great. Ball ’05, SM ’07, CTO and co-founder of Atlas Devices, talks about how he was taking piano lessons as a kid when he started to get interested in beatboxing. He found that by applying to beatboxing the same techniques and training mechanisms that he used for piano, his beatboxing toolbox grew. He could make more sounds with greater ease; “more creative and interesting ideas could be expressed.” A similar experience happened years later when Ball combined principles of thermodyanamics to another hobby he enjoys–paint-balling. Ball hopes to inspire more innovative and broad-thinking engineers by encouraging people to develop and combine their technical training and creative pursuits. View video of Ball below or watch it on YouTube.

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Look familiar? Readers may have seen Ball as the host of PBS’s Design Squad and the alumnus who, at age 24, became the youngest winner of the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his work on a new type of needle-free vaccine delivery device, and for his co-invention of a powered rope ascender.

And if you’re still curious about beatboxing, check out this video of Rahzel Brown. (Ball references Rahzel in his presentation on a couple occasions.)

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