The Smartest "Doofus" Around: An Interview with Afiniac Joey Hudy

Some people say that the future is in 3D printing. We believe this is partly true. The whole truth is that the real future is in people – especially people using 3D printing – like Joey Hudy, a young inventor, maker, and Afiniac. We had the honor of speaking with him recently, and left the conversation even more impressed than we imagined we would be.

The Smartest Doofus Around

Hudy is the youngest intern to have worked at Intel.
Hudy is the youngest intern to have worked at Intel.

Hudy is the youngest intern at Intel and has been named one of the 10 smartest kids the in the world, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. “When I saw that I was chosen as one of the 10 smartest kids, I burst out laughing. It’s just not the truth,” Hudy chuckled, “I’m not the smartest. I’m just good at engineering and building stuff. With other stuff, I’m a complete doofus. I know plenty of other people who would deserve a place on that list just as much as I would. There is a 13-year-old that goes to my school and is already in Calculus 4. How is HE not on the list?! I think it is only that you need to be out there to be noticed.”

Spreading the Word Around the World

Joey has definitely been noticed. He has been to Maker Faires across the US, and across the globe. “I have been to Rome, China, Paris, and a couple other places I can’t remember! When I travel for international faires, we are out there for a week or so, and get to explore a bit. When I was in China, we had time to go to the markets and we were invited to tour some manufacturing plants. I also got to speak at one of the schools. I keep saying I should take Mandarin instead of Spanish… it might be more useful for me. I want to learn Polish, too, since I’m half polish and my best friend speaks Polish. I know how to say goodbye, but I’ve forgotten how to say hello,” laughs Hudy, “that’s probably not good!”

Hudy explores China while attending Maker Faire Shenzhen.
Hudy explores China while attending Maker Faire Shenzhen.
Hudy gets his picture taken with students after presenting at a school in Shenzhen.
Hudy gets his picture taken with students after presenting at a school in Shenzhen.

“I just got back from Maker Faire New York on Monday, and I’m flying to Rome tomorrow for Maker Faire Rome,” Hudy explained. “In New York, I was showing off the 10x10x10 RGB LED cube I created. We were going to give it a fun name, like Pandora’s Box, which in Greek mythology is a box that, when opened, all hell breaks loose. That’s basically what happened when we tried building it. It turned out neat, though, and got some great reactions in New York. In Rome, I will be talking about my journey and how others can do what I am doing, too.”

Marshmallow Shooting with the President

President Obama was surprised and impressed by Hudy's Marshmallow Shooter.
President Obama was surprised and impressed by Hudy’s Marshmallow Shooter.

When he was 12, Hudy was invited to the White House to show off one of his first creations: the marshmallow air cannon. “It was a bit scary at first but President Obama is a nice guy, and liked the marshmallow shooter. I saw the photo of him and me after leaving the White House and I was just laughing. I don’t take a lot of things seriously. I’ve been back to the White House twice this year – in February for the State of the Union and again in April for the White House Maker Faire (April). I got to meet some cool people there, like Will.I.Am. He invited me to help with the watch he is working on, which is basically like a phone, allowing you to text from it and everything.”

Starting Young

“I’ve been interested in making and inventing since age 5 or 6. We had a science book on our shelf, and I loved reading it. I began doing some of the experiments in there, and loved doing those, too.”

“I started 3D printing about 4 years ago. First, I had a ‘DIY’ printer. It took me around a month to build, and when it was finally running, I crashed the build head into the build plate. They had optical sensors instead of limit switches. DIY printers may work for some people, but it was not fitting for me, so I’m using it for parts now. I went through a couple more 3D printers, and they worked well for 3-4 months and then would crash. After a bit, I saw the Afinia 3D printer in MAKE magazine and talked to a friend who told me more about the Afinia. After hearing it was reliable, I got one. It is just what I needed. It has never failed a print, nothing has broken, and everything has been great. I’ve only had to re-level the build plate platform!”

Great Prints, Great People

“Lately, I’m using my 3D printer for a new Intel builds. One of my projects is a full body 3D scanner. So I use my Afinia to make motor mounts and parts that I need. About half the parts that are in it are 3D prints.”

Hudy visits the Afinia booth at Maker Faire New York, skateboard in hand.
Hudy visits the Afinia booth at Maker Faire New York, skateboard in hand.

“I’ve built scanners before and have printed scans of friends and myself. What impressed me about the scanner and the Afinia 3D Printer was that I wear around 13 wristbands from Maker Faires on my left arm and the scanner caught it, and when it printed the resolution was nice and didn’t break. The support material did a great job and came off nicely.”

“The people at Afinia are great, too. I like to visit with them sometimes at the faires. In New York, Zack (who works for Afinia) and I were talking about skateboarding. He decided to try an Ollie on my board and almost wrecked himself and shot the skateboard into a security guard. It was hilarious! They are fun guys.”

Too Busy for Balance

When I asked Hudy how he balanced everything (school, internship, college searches, and having a life) his response was pretty simple: “I don’t!” Hudy explained, “On average, I’m working on maybe three projects, and forgetting about one or two others! I only do one project at a time for my Intel internship, and the other ones are helping friends or for school. I definitely keep busy, but I’ve grown up knowing that school comes first. Other things are postponed if they need to be. I entered a smart glasses concept design for a contest, for example, but don’t have time to move it forward. Once other things settle down, I might go back and start working on it.”

A Bright Future for a Humble Guy

“I want to go to Olin for Electrical Engineering. I’ll graduate from high school and finish my Intel internship in May.” When asked what he will do when he has a few months of free time before college, Hudy said, “I might find another job… or go to Poland!”

Hudy with the RGB LED Cube creation he showed at Maker Faire New York.
Hudy with the RGB LED Cube creation he showed at Maker Faire New York.

We don’t have any question about whether Hudy will get into the college of his dreams, but he stays humble. “The school I go to right now is – I don’t want to sound snobby, but – a gifted school.” There is a pause on the line, some laughter, and then Hudy comes back on, saying his parents called him a little snot for calling it a gifted school. Hudy’s mom came on the line momentarily chuckling, “he get’s no slack around here, just like everyone else!” It is clear that while his parents make sure he stays grounded, they still give him their full support.

Unwavering Support

“When we moved to Arizona, we had a spare room and I requested it as a workshop room. When we lived in Chicago, all my maker stuff was in my bedroom, and I wouldn’t sleep because it was too tempting to keep creating things! So they let me have it, and it’s been great.”

Hudy is very appreciative of his parents, and also of his sister: “She is 18 and going to school for Spanish and Business. It’s great, because even though I took two years of Spanish, I can’t speak it at all, but she just gets it. When she was still at home she was able to help me out a little with my homework!”

Hudy’s Message to Others

“If I can do it, you can do it, too. At one point, I was just like you. I had an idea and wanted to build it. So I came up with a design, went to Home Depot, bought some PVC pipe and a few tools, and built an air cannon. That is what really got me into the maker field. The goal with the speeches I give at faires and schools is to get kids to realize they can do this stuff, too, and show people how I did it.”