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Nate Ball is a mechanical engineer, world renowned beatboxer, author, and TV show host.At heart, Nate Ball is a mechanical engineer, but he is also a world renowned beatboxer, author, and TV show host. “I grew up building stuff out of blocks, LEGOs, and boards, anything I could get my hands on,” he says. “Eventually I figured out I could build things as a living.”

A graduate of MIT, Ball started his own company, Atlas Device, where he builds rescue equipment used primarily by the military. “It’s pretty fun stuff,” he says. “It really combines childhood dreams of getting to play with superhero equipment with a love of building things.”

With his love for engineering, Ball has turned to outreach, hoping to inspire kids to get involved in the field. “Engineering is one of the most important ways that we can drive ahead our progress as communities and a nation. It’s behind everything that we touch and deal with every day. We live in an engineered world,” says Ball.

Every book in the Alien in My Pocket series mixes science and hands-on experiments.In his experience, a technical education enhances life and equips you with important skills. “Being able to analytically think and solve an abstract problem is phenomenally valuable, and that is a skillset that you develop when you study STEM. It doesn’t even matter if you end up as an engineer. Having studied it, worked hard at it, and learning to be technically competent will serve you, and everyone around you, for life.”

One of Ball’s projects to help kids get excited about engineering is a show called Design Squad, which airs on PBS. He has also authored a book series, An Alien in My Pocket, which will see its third installment in May.

“My whole purpose in doing this is to get kids that experience of ‘whoa I can use my own skills to do something cool that I thought up myself,’” explains Ball. “That’s something that transforms your experience of learning when you make that connection.”

On the show and in his books a primary component is “here’s how cool this can be, now here is how to do it yourself,” he adds. The Atlas Power Ascender

Ball is presenting at the 2014 USA Science & Engineering Festival, in Washington D.C. Keeping with his hands-on theme, the show is called “Superhero Engineering and the Science of Beatboxing.” During his presentation he will also be doing a life demonstration of the Atlas Power Ascender, a reverse rappelling tool that can pull a fully-loaded solider up any vertical surface at 10 feet per second.

“Naturally, [the presentation] wouldn’t be complete without beaming up to the ceiling on that actual piece of equipment,” he adds.

After a successful sound check (and rigging ropes to the ceiling) Ball is ready to inspire a crowd of young engineers. Who knows? Maybe he’ll teach them to beatbox as well.

For a complete list of events, visit www.usasciencefestival.org.

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