Jay Ham, Ph.D. is professor at Colorado State University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. http://soilcrop.agsci.colostate.edu/faculty-2/ham-jay/ and @ProfJayHam.

 

What is your earliest memory of being a maker?

Growing up on the farm, I have very early memories of working on equipment, welding, and fabricating. Farmers are makers by necessity.

 

What do you like most about being a maker?

The combination of creativity, science, hands-on learning, and sharing the experience/information with others.

 

What’s your big, audacious goal?

Develop an Agricultural/Food Internet‐of‐Things (IoT) research center and startup. I would like to couple this with an educational outreach and training program that has a strong maker movement connection.

 

What do you want to accomplish in the next one to two years?

Develop new IoT sensor technology for agriculture, water, and environmental sciences. Also, to develop on‐line courses that teach these skills to others who have limited engineering and programming experience.

 

What have your biggest challenges been?

Monetizing the IoT technology in a sustainable way is a serious challenge. The goal here is not to make truckloads of money. However, we need to raise capital and create cash flow for these efforts to be sustainable and impactful.

I’m currently studying open‐source business models – there seems to be a lot of new research in this area. Also, I am reaching out to industry leaders that share my passion for Ag‐IoT and sustainable food production. Their experience and
expertise can be invaluable.

 

What is one thing about you that would surprise people?

I am avid student of meditation and mindfulness. I lead a meditation group weekly.

 

Is there anything else you would like people to know about your work?

My goal is to apply the maker mindset to improve safe local food production, conserve water, and make sure technology can be democratized at all scales of agriculture (big to small, large investments to shoestring budgets, experienced to beginner). I see the spread of low‐cost, open‐source technology is the way to reach this goal. As university scientists and students, we seek more cooperation with makers and citizen scientists – this could be a win‐win for everyone involved.

 

Dr. Ham will be demonstrating how to build your own sensors and electronics for your garden, greenhouse or farm at the 2017 Denver Maker Faire on October 14-15 at the Denver Mart. For more information and tickets go to denver.makerfaire.com/faq

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