Jeff Eck's Answers for the 2018 Election

Tell us about yourself
I’m Jeff Eck, your friendly cranky former metal shop assistant, and I am running for a Director at Large position on the board. I am a Kansas State University - Aviation Grad with a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. I am a small business owner (welding and fabrication shop), parent to two growing kids, and a long time supporter of MakeICT.

What are some favorite things you have already done for MakeICT?
It all started for me on a warm spring day, backed my box trailer up towards the first makerspace and we proceeded to move into 1500 E Douglass one load at a time from the Delano Dist location. I had only been a member for a few months prior and it was then that I started contributing to what we are now. In the following weeks, I worked many long nights with Mike Hutton building the woodshop and it was an amazing learning experience. Likewise, setting up the metal shop with the first two area leads and assisting them with managing the area was an excellent time with great people. I’ve contributed to nearly every area of our building. I have met some of my closest friends through MakeICT!

What in your opinion qualifies you to be a board member?
I have been a part of the organization long enough to know who we are and what we are about. I am a bit biased in that I feel to be on the board a person needs to have been with us long enough to know and be a part of our culture, at least a year. In the same line of thought, I would also think it best that I am also not in a position of leadership at the Makerspace. I can foresee many conflicts of interest in a board member being an Area lead and having all the decisions in such a tiny group doesn’t allow others to be involved. Likewise, I am also not waiting until the last minute in hopes of name recognition from our ‘ghost’ membership.

If you have served on the Board in the past, What do you feel you did right?
Not applicable.
What do you think you did wrong, or could have done better?
Not applicable.

Are you able to be at Board meetings, Maker Mondays and other events for the duration of your term?
I have rarely been absent from a maker Monday and if elected I will be at each board meeting.

It is our mission to innovate, learn, and build community at the intersection of art, technology, science, and culture. How would you support our mission as leadership?
I am quite approachable and enjoy a good conversation about MakeICT. I’d hope as a Director at Large to help bridge the gap between the board and general membership. As I am still a student in many areas, I’d be learning as I go…

What should we do next?
What are your thoughts about MakeICT’s direction in the coming year?
The board should be working towards growth of our organization. Whether we decide to build a second makerspace or move to a larger location, we should keep our eyes on the horizon. Many areas could use more space and equipment as well as area for more than a few members to work safely at the same time.

What’s your agenda for what you want to accomplish in the coming year?
First, I’d like to see the board give more authority to the makerspace director. He or she should then have the authority to appoint the area leads and that group manage the makerspace. Second, we should be looking as a board to work on what is next for our entire organization and get out of the muck of day to day ops. I’d like to help form the plan for our 10-year growth/goals. Third, enact the plan to get us started towards our goals.

How will you gauge whether we’re successful as an organization?
Success is something I hope we never achieve. We should strive to be better than we were today, that every tomorrow is bigger, brighter, and has more people involved. In my personal business life, I keep success on the other side of the hill I am always climbing. If we get to a point where we say we have ACHIEVED, we follow the rules of motion and start our way down… Our success is measured in our memberships ability to learn and achieve in all areas of art, tech,xyz.

What should our priorities be in terms of trying to find a different space versus extending the lease on our current building?
Any investment in a property we do not own is essentially a donation to the landlord to raise the value of the building and our rent. We are short on space and growth is going to be slowed by constant reorganizations and attempts to get the most out of our current location. We have little room to add any new tools or equipment to better serve our community. With that said, I am not against our Makerspace Director forming a plan and following through with using our current resources to their fullest potential.

Do you think MakeICT should focus on one space down town or multiple satellite locations in underserved communities?
Let’s keep the family under the same roof. Satelite locations sound neat, but expensive and would separate our community.

How should we operate?
Do you believe the Board should deal with day to day issues? Should area leads have more authority over day to day operations?
We have amazing people leading the Makerspace, DevICT, etc. The board should treat each program equally, receive updates on programs statuses, and only get involved when explicitly necessary. Furthermore, area leads should have more authority issued to them by the makerspace director issued by the board of directors. Chain of command. Board only gets involved when it has gone through the appropriate channels.

Do you support an expansion of board terms from 1 year to 2 years? Why or why not?
I’m on the fence. I can envision this as a burn out item, but I can see it give the board more time to get us further in an elected term. However, if we have board members not fulfilling their duties, or not representing membership desires, it would make it harder to stop a cancerous growth…

Would a 2 year term affect your decisions to accept a nomination?
Not explicitly. I love MakeICT and a second year wouldn’t scare me off.

Would you support staggered elections June and December for general directors seats? Why or why not?
I would not support this. The board is a group, changing its director midterm is a bad idea.

Would you support staggered elections with half the board elected at each Annual meeting?
Yes, but this only works if we spread the term to two years. Otherwise, I’m not sure what the question is.

Tell us one thing the Board did in the last 12 months that needs an undo. Be specific.
I can’t think of anything in particular. Overall the board should leave the makerspace to its leadership and only get involved when needed.

Tell us one thing not done in the last 12 months by the Board that still needs done. Be specific.
We are sailing without a map. What is our goal, what are we working towards at an instatute?

Do you believe the entire membership should vote each year at the annual meeting on the organizations Standing Rules? Refer to Article III Section 2 of the bylaws.
I could go either way. I fear many of our members don’t care to be involved this much…

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Jeff, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, you have always been a member of MakeICT who I’ve really grown to trust and appreciate.

I agree with you that the board should stay out of day to day issues, but I do not want us to give up area lead appointments. We discussed area leads with the director in the room with the same vote as all of us. He did not tell us to ask out of it or propose his own slate - although we might have supported his slate if he’d done that. I really think it’s too important a decision for one person to do in a bubble. Maybe for interim cases, but for the annual appointments, it’s huge. Multiple board members worked on recruiting the right leads, announcing the opportunities, listening to the previous leads about what they’d need from us to want to continue in their roles.

The most important thing that leaders do is get the right people in place. If the right people are doing their jobs, you can turn to look at greater strategic plans. Several of the area leads we appointed are now interested in becoming board members, which tells me we got the correct passionate leaders in place. I work at a company with thousands of employees and I can tell you that the highest levels are involved in leadership decisions because it’s so key to the future of the organization.

Christian is helping develop and levelset those leads, especially the newer ones, answering day to day questions, focusing on how we operate, the tools we have/keep/get rid of, etc. I’m happy he’s handling that. But people stuff and growing leaders is my passion and a huge reason I’m on the board in the first place.

Second point - you said we’re sailing without a map with no goals, but you did not outline ways to measure success of the organization or how we can tell that people are learning. I was at last night’s area lead meeting and heard some fantastic work that’s gone on with the new building committee so I’m not sure I’d agree we have no goals, but that’s my side, what else would you put on a map if you were making one? Do you have a concrete vision for where MakeICT should be in five years?

I’ll concede that you might have a valid point on the board selecting are leads. I’ll give it some thought, but I wonder if their might be a middle ground that still puts the power a bit more on the Directors side. I know the Director will change, but if we usually have someone half as AMAZING as Christian is, we would be fools to let it go to waste. Unless we want to manage each of our programs at this level? I know DevICT isn’t the same without a makerspace and with them soon to be out of our umbrella, but would we have wanted to manage that program in the same manner if they had equipment, xzy?

I am troubled by leads and assistants wanting to be on the board. We have such a small core of volunteers working to make the Makerspace and MakeICT operate and to put all the decisions in the same hands running both, spells for conflicts of interests and CONFLICTS as people will be put off by so few in charge of it all… I appreciate their desire and passion, but I worry about the fallout…

On the sailing without a map. I may have use the wrong metaphor, but the point was many of us do not know the goals of the Institute. We work to support where we can, but often we are happily going with the wind at the moment. Maybe we need a better way of communicating our plan? I sat in for the end of the new building committee discussion and it was eye opening and it did lift my spirits a bit. My dream for 5 years might be a bit grand, but I’d like to see us be to go create as they are to us now. Not their lack of community, but the building, equipment, etc. I’d be ecstatic if we had 600-1000 members, at least half being involved in the community. I’d be beside myself if we had 100-300 core members in LOVE with OUR dream, on FIRE with OUR passion, working to make not just MakeICT, but Wichita better for us being here. And as always, thank you Kim for the dialog. Being in the vicinity of greatness gives credibility to us less visible ones. I’d make a wink symbol if I knew how…


I met you last night at the MakerMonday and after talking with you for a brief time I got a sense you are a good asset for MakeICT. I like to think that all the people who have taken the time to become and stay members have MakeICT’s best interests at heart.

I am wondering if you might be able to clarify something for me.
You say that you are troubled by leads and assistants wanting to be on the board sighting; people being put off by so few in charge.
Is that not in conflict with the idea of giving more authority to the Makerspace Director, giving one person the authority to appoint the area leads, and that group managing the makerspace?
Instead of a few in charge are you advocating a single person appointing a management group?

leads and assistants are individuals who are wanting the best for, not only their specific areas, but for MakeICT as a whole.
If conflict of interest troubles you, rhetorically, Should there be a concern that since you were once the assistant in the Metal shop, that as the Director you would put the Metal shops needs above Printmaking or Jewelry or any other department? Should we say that anyone running for board should not be, or have been in a leadership roll?

I am not troubled that there are leads and assistants that want to lead and steer the board to bigger and better things, I have the same fear you have. “I fear many of our members don’t care to be involved this much…” Out of 300-400 members there are only 17 members running for 8 positions (one unopposed). With a mere 5% of the membership caring enough to run, I am afraid, leads and assistants running for board is unavoidable.

Scott, this is where being a part of our history helps. Dominic, a founding member, has made it clear in the past that the board of directors is for MakeICT Institute and the makerspace is just a program of said organization. For our parent organization to strive it needs to spend less time micro managing the Makerspace program and allow the people we have chosen to lead, lead. A Director of the Makerspace would direct, weather working with board oversight, a committee, or his sock puppet he calls Steve. I would like to restructure things a bit and I have a hunch I am not alone.

It is different for 1 person to fill 2 positions in our organization, than a distant former assistant (long time member) looking to help direct future planning and growth. It stifles people who would feel shut out by the core team as they hold all the cards. The conflict arises when the board is voting on the area leads and you have both the lead and assistant on the board choosing to keep their positions. Likewise, it would allow for people to question ethics and how who decides where the money goes. Best bet is to keep the two separate as one is managing the other. For the record, I may have helped build the wood and metal shops, but I have also had a hand in most areas. My only bias is wanting a clear distinction between our Board of Directors for MakeICT Instatute and the leadership team of MakeICT Makerspace.

Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?


I agree with a lot of what you are saying in principle, but the MakeICT Institute notion, as originally imagined, is a solution in search of a problem. Every six months or so it seems a handful of people try to bring The Institute idea back to life. But the support for the idea always seems to be “so and so a really long time ago, when MakeICT was just a toddler, thought it was a good idea” - just like I used to think platform shoes and pet rocks were way cool…but then I grew up.

The Institute notion is a bad management structure for such a small organization as ours. It might be worthy of consideration for a conglomerate, but not a small non-profit like ours. We need to focus on what we do best, and that means focusing on the maker space. I’ll bet 95% of our members don’t even know what the Institute notion is really about. If The Institute notion can’t be justified on its merits alone, then it should be put out of our misery. It’s an idea that’s being driven from the top down in an environment that is best served bottom’s up.

Or maybe the maker space should consider whether it really needs oversight from MakeICT Institute and vote to break off and form our own 501©3? This seems perfectly reasonable given that the people who keep supporting The Institute idea keep referring to the maker space as if it is just one piece of The Institute, equivalent to devICT and KLF. Since it sounds like devICT is planning to break off and go independent, maybe we should as well? Then The Institute folks might begin to realize how vacuous The Institute idea really is.

It’s very frustrating that we keep wasting valuable time and energy on these ideas that have almost zero potential benefit for most of our members. They’re like zombies that keep coming back to life and eating our future! Maybe we need to have a ritual “burning at the stake” for these never ending distractions…



If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?

Difficult feedback.
As a small business owner, I can’t look to someone else when I need to tell an employee they are not getting the job done. Not always easy, but look them in the eye to show you respect them and say what must be said, whether it be that they are getting a raise or to clean out their locker.
First 90 days, meet with the new board either individually or as a group and see where everyone stands. There is little value in pushing any ideas that will be voted down by a clear majority so find a compromise that is acceptable. I’d like to see some leadership processes modified, communication of our plan better implemented, work towards locating and figuring out capitol requirements for a larger facility for the makerspace and so on.

Curt, I have a surprise for you, we agree more than you think. The purpose of my ‘support’ for the Institute notion is to allow the great people, volunteering to make the makerspace function, manage the makerspace and allow the board to fulfill it’s purpose. If our Makerspace Director and the Area Leads can manage the makerspace without needing a hand held, it will allow the board to make the connections to local officials, generous businesses, real estate people, etc working towards the end goal of better serving our membership who for the most part just want a great place to collaborate and make things. Historically speaking I have had issue with our structure of double management, selecting competent leaders to only lead over them. It has been in decline during this boards term and it has shown great success at the makerspace with little board progress on the big picture. We have for the most part let the Area Leads and their Director operate, but still find the board stuck in purgatory over smaller details. I hope I am making sense. Simple put, my only support on the institute notion is to allow the makerspace to function while the board looks for the next facility and makes it a reality.

It pains me to say this but Curt is right. We designed the institute to help the midwest by helping makerspaces. At the time there was Tulsa, kc… Colorado springs… the idea that MakeICT would be a program, makehutch, makemhk… but we since have become concerned with only growing our space. I don’t think Devict or klf have booths at makerfair. Did anyone invite them? Do we care? We refuse to go to other makerfair. But then ask them to come to ours. You can guess that response.

Those makerspaces that I wanted to help, most of them exist now without us. So it doesnt make sense to pointlessly create programs for the board to run. I know how I would restructure the space I I had to do it. I’m curious what the new board comes up with.


James, I would like to know your thoughts on restructuring. If you are wishing to avoid contaminating the intellectual gene pool with your ideas or stealing the stage, too bad, you are one of the group who started this organization and your thoughts are quite valuable! If you’d rather email me, then I can claim they are my ideas :wink: In all seriousness, I would like to know what anyone things on this.

I’ll beat anyone to the punch, Jeff, what do you think about a board member being compensated when they are teaching a class?

When the class is an elective that the instructor sets the price and it isn’t a requirement to operate equipment, the board member acting as a general member may charge whatever number they see fit as it has nothing to do with the board.

When the class is a requirement and compensation is set by the board and the board member is in leadership over the equipment the class covers, it would be unethical and be a conflict of interest for the board member/Area Lead/ Assistant lead to get paid as they set the compensation rate as the board member and set the requirement as the Area Lead or Assistant Lead.


What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?

#1 calendar on my cell phone.
#2 I take notes in a notebook that I then scan in it’s organization program. It’s pretty neat with an erasable ink pen and a weird paper. Elfin book 2.0
#3 a remarkable memory with numbers. I can usually hear, read, write a number once and I’ll remember it for weeks/years. Not as perfect as it was when I was younger, but still pretty good at it…

If you could change three things about yourself, what would they be?

New eyes, new spinal vertebra removing the rods and screws that are loose, fix my crushed pelvis so that my right leg doesn’t need a 1" heel lift to level the base of my spine. All of the above are most likely not in my deck of cards.
Things I can change:

  1. Working to make tobacco a thing of the past in my life.
  2. Nearly all of us can learn to better work with people which is why each year I go through Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people.” Just finished the book 3 weeks ago, you would be surprised how much more you can learn each round. On this subject, through audible I can give anyone their first book free and I’d give anyone this book if they want it.
  3. I can be offensive when I don’t even realize it. As I would prefer truth to comfort, I sometimes do not see offense when speaking what I believe to be true. I do my best to treat everyone as an equal or superior to me, but at times I slip up and I am working to, as Dale Carnegie would put it, put myself in their shoes.
  4. There will always be more room for improvement as we should all work to be better people, friends, husbands, wives, parents, etc.
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This thread became controversial/heated and I had some members concerned about how MakeICT was being represented, so I moved those posts to a private forum.

I am glad we are honest with each other and people are passionate enough about MakeICT to bring up issues when we are concerned.

10 posts were split to a new topic: Jeff Eck’s answers - split off thread

The question on experience in the different areas. I helped operate the metal shop and during that time I assisted the leads in setting policies and taught the safety classes. Never touched any pottery. I am approved for wood shop and I have used it 2-3 times. I’ve used a soldering Iron once in the electronics lab. I’ve walked by the printmaking studio. Textiles looks nice from the ‘hallway’, but I’m not the target audience. I printed on the 3d printer a few times, but that was when it was in the now Print Making studio. I seldom wear my wedding ring as they become magnets when you are welding and that is about all I know about jewelry.

What all this means is I support MakeICT for its mission and community, not for its tools. I’ve tried to help out in each area, whether it was buying 1000 pens (Office Max near me was being closed), cleaning, or donating a TV for the lounge, and more that I can’t think of at the moment.

List one thing for each candidate that you truly admire about them.

Malissa has drive and passion that I am sometimes jealous of. Keep it up, Malissa!

Jeremiah gets things done, he has done a much better job leading in the metal shop than I did while assisting the previous leads.

David Springs has a creativity and knowledge in a wide variety of areas. I am also a bit jealous here…

Scott, I’m sorry, but I don’t know you and could only guess.

Ladeana is fair and often very unbiased. She has a wealth of knowledge from her career in aircraft!

Joel, I just met you and I like your passion, but I don’t really know anything else about you.

Devin, I have had little contact with you, but the Print Shop looks like it is doing quite well!

Kez is spunky, has drive and an openness to hear peoples desires.

James Lancaster We often disagree on policy, but we can have a conversation about it without having an argument. I really enjoy speaking with you, learning from your experiences and thoughts. I wish I saw you more at maker Mondays so we could chat more!

Ken, I just met you, I don’t really know you, but I wonder if you should be the security lead as I hear you were amazing at it in your career.

Kim can see the good in people and communicate with little error. She is also a wonderful leader who I admire and appreciate greatly.

Rustin is creative, extremely smart, and a nice guy I wish I was more like at times.

Paul is great that he can work with people he disagrees with and can see the good in someone who he has different options from. I am also very proud of how he and JB work together to make the best Metal shop possible.

Dean is kind, smart, and a wealth of information in many many areas!

If MakeICT didn’t exist? I would be spending my time with my kids, running my business, and looking for other avenues to volunteer.