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  • Writer's pictureSarah Jensen

From the MakeInspires Classroom to MIT: Oliver Rayner's Success Story


Oliver Rayner as a child

Oliver as a student at MakeInspires in 2012.


Oliver Rayner is an award-winning aerospace engineering student at MIT and a distinguished alumnus of MakeInspires. 


In his formative years, Oliver displayed a profound interest in unraveling the mysteries of science and technology. In 2012, Oliver embarked on his educational journey at MakeInspires, guided by the visionary mentorship of Travis Sluss, the founder and CEO. I had the opportunity to chat with Oliver about his experiences.


Sarah: Did MakeInspires help you decide what you wanted to go to school for?


Oliver: Yeah I would say so, I mean, they first introduced me to programming and the design process. We were doing soft robotics– I remember thinking that was so cool. 


Soft robotics is a subfield of robotics that focuses on the design of robots using soft and deformable materials, which allows them to adapt to harsh environments. Oliver continued pursuing his interest in robotics at MIT– he even placed first in MIT’s “Mobile Autonomous Systems LABoratory Competition” in 2022. 


Oliver Rayner, An MIT student and MakeInspires Alum

Oliver Rayner with one of his childhood drawings on display at MakeInspires in Mamaroneck.


Beyond robotics, Oliver also credited MakeInspires with expanding his knowledge of orbital mechanics by exposing him to Kerbal Space Program. He noted its applicability in the MIT classroom:


Oliver: As an aerospace major, almost everyone in my department has played Kerbal Space Program at some point in their studies. I'm currently taking a class called space systems design with Professor Kerri Kahoy, who leads Star Lab at MIT. They specialize in creating and launching satellites. Professor Kahoy is not only incredibly talented but also obsessed with Kerbal Space Program. It's what she does in her free time. Delving into it provides a comprehensive understanding of orbital mechanics and the mathematical aspects needed for an entire undergraduate education in orbital mechanics.


Oliver spent the better part of a decade in MakeInspires classrooms, as a student, then intern, then teacher. He has often returned to Mamaroneck during breaks from school to stay with his family, see old friends, and catch up with Travis and Caleb at the Makerspace. 

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