Matt Eargle airbornesurfer
When I was a toddler, my grandfather—an electrician for Lockheed—let me play with one of his most prized possessions: a TI-30 calculator. Not just "play", mind you, but go outside, dig in the dirt with it, and press as many buttons as possible while trying to make the calculator present interesting characters on its LED display. Yes, at the tender age of 3, I discovered what would later be known as circuit bending. Sadly, my grandfather passed not long after that day, but it turns out that electromancy is hereditary.
I was that kid—the one that took everything apart and attempted to either get it back into working order or (as was more often the case) to figure out what went wrong—much to my parents' chagrin. No household technology was safe from young Matthew brandishing a screwdriver. My folks were okay with it so long as I didn't interrupt Mom's soap operas, and besides, I was the only one in the house that knew how to program the VCR.
By middle school, I had begun dabbling with audio and video production thanks to a healthy obsession with the broadcasting industry (mostly brought on by the fact that we didn't have cable, so I poured myself into studying how to get better reception to watch Square One TV and Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? I was starting to produce my own radio shows, mixtapes, and video shorts—uploading them to the nascent World Wide Web when I could.
My high school didn't have an A/V club. There was this one kid who was appointed by the librarian to handle all the school's equipment and wouldn't let anyone else in the editing bay. In response, my friends and I formed our own independent production company. Every big project that came around—term papers, research projects, anything that required some sort of presentation—saw the bunch of us assemble like maladjusted teenage Avengers to write, direct, shoot, and edit a video presentation. Word got around, and soon our videos were passed around to other classes as "instructional aids". The school's million-dollar editing bay was surpassed by a bunch of punks with a couple of VCRs!
Since high school, I skipped around trying to find my place in an ever-changing world. Radio and TV, my high school sweethearts, were too formatted and homogenous—the heart and soul sucked out of them by a decade of corporate consolidation. I turned to my second love, aviation, and I trained as a helicopter pilot. My natural inclination toward systems gave me an edge—especially when learning radio navigation—but I never stopped building. I used my piloting skills to help NASA develop machine vision algorithms for unmanned spacecraft. I pressed for the University System of Georgia to adopt Free and Open Source Software as a cost-saving measure (a proposal that was ultimately doomed when federal grant monies were used to purchase iMacs and Windows 7 licenses for them). I designed and built specialized intrusion detection and surveillance equipment for law enforcement. Eventually, I circled back to video production—utilizing this new platform called “YouTube” and honing my skills by creating tutorial videos.
Today, I teach courses STEM in areas such as basic electronics and drone operation. I sit on the board for a hacker/maker convention in southern California. I work with a nonprofit that repurposes old computers for scientific research. I make videos about my different projects. And, on occasion, I find the time to surf.
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