We asked Ann Makosinski — inventor and global influencer with a spot-on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 — about tech innovation, STEAM, and her advice for future trailblazers.
What sparked your interest in inventing?
My interest in inventing originally came from necessity, as I wasn’t given many toys as a child and had to make my own. From there I began doing things like taking old computers and printers apart and joining science fairs. I find inventing to be a means of escaping reality and physically creating my own. It feels very natural for me to tinker and make things with my hands, because that’s what I grew up doing. I think we’re starting to lose a lot of people who can make things with their hands, and it’s a very important skill.
What is STEAM, and why is it important for you to be involved in this field?
STEAM is science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics — which is a term I prefer to use over STEM, as it excludes the arts. It’s crucial for us to teach younger kids and teenagers about the vital combination of science and art, which ends up creating the most successful and useful products
We should no longer regard arts as a hobby and science as a career. There are so many different kinds of jobs being created nowadays that require people to have skills in both areas. The education curriculum in Canada needs to be completely reworked to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
What barriers have you faced as a female inventor and entrepreneur and how have you overcome them?
When entering the science and business world as a young teen, I was quite oblivious to the fact that there were fewer girls than guys. I really just didn’t care that I was the only girl, I didn’t feel self-conscious about it at all. Over recent years I’ve become increasingly aware of the inequality — the different way I may be treated — and the one piece of advice I can give is to not change who you are for whomever you’re talking to. Be authentically yourself, be proud and confident in your abilities. The rest will shine through when you speak.
What advice can you share for the next generation of STEAM leaders?
Embrace your love for both science and arts, don’t shun one to pursue the other. You’ll find time and time again that little talents you have in the arts will come and complement whatever you’re working on in the sciences, and vice versa. We need more degrees in universities that are open to this combination of science and arts, like NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, which allows you to create your own degree in two different fields. I hope the terms “inventor” and “innovator” one day become accepted as normal occupations, instead of considered to be unusual.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Science-wise, I’ve invented and designed a line of eco-friendly children’s toys that run off of green energy. We’re starting to talk with different toy companies, as well as pitch TV show ideas that I’ve been working on the past while. Art-wise, I decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone and study acting at a studio in New York, NY — where I’ve now moved to! It’s been very therapeutic and an eye-opening experience. I love it! Can’t wait for what’s to come.