UTeach Maker Mentors

UTeach Maker Mentors


Patrick Benfield

Patrick is the founding director of the Francis Lo i.lab for Design + Making, a new, creative learning space at Magellan International School in Austin, TX. Besides directing the school's innovation program, he is a lead mentor for the UTeach Maker fellowship program for The University of Texas at Austin, a senior fellow of the Thinkery EdExchange Program, and a frequent presenter at conferences including SXSWedu, Stanford FabLearn, and Maker Faire Austin.




Oren Connell

Oren Connell manages the Maker Space at Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, an all-girls public school, serving grades 6–12 in Austin TX. In addition to making sure the bandsaw blade is always sharp, "Mr. Oren" works with students, during school hours and after school, to inform, train, and encourage a wide variety of projects and processes from laser cutters to hot glue guns. Oren continually collaborates closely with Ann Richards faculty to encourage, train, and facilitate Maker and STEAM focused projects in their classrooms. Outside of Ann Richards, Oren develops STEM-centric curriculum that focuses on fun ways to engage participants. Before coming to Ann Richards Oren worked with Austin Tinkering School designing and leading classes and camps.




Natalie Freed Photo

Natalie Freed

Natalie Freed is a freelance maker with a focus on exploring creative and artistic ways to teach computer science. She has worked as an exhibit developer at the San Francisco Exploratorium, taught computer programming and digital fabrication at Lick-Wilmerding High School, taught electronics at Autodesk Pier 9, and has designed a number of workshops on paper circuits, the mathematics of bookbinding, algorithmic design, and other fun combinations of tech and craft. She is an alum of the MIT Media Lab and of Arizona State University.




Casey Gum's Photo

Casey Gum

Casey is a software engineer/architect and the owner and principal consultant of nDriven Consulting. He studied business and computer engineering at the University of Texas. Casey started his first company in the mid 90s, specializing in digital marketing and communications. He later went on to help develop the multi-source intelligence visualization and analysis platform for the U.S. Army. Working with electronics, wood, metal, plastics, and textiles, Casey is passionate about making and the positive impacts a maker mentality can have on innovation, creative thinking, and personal fulfillment.




Alex Morrison

Alex Morrison is an Independent Museum Professional, specializing in developing and implementing inquiry based making programs for ages 2-15 in museums and other informal learning institutions. Her focus lies in exploring how multidisciplinary making experiences that intersect STEM principles with creative arts, performance, and drama can foster prolonged engagement in a museum's collection.




Lauren Siegel

Lauren is the Director and co-Founder of the non-profit, MathHappens. MathHappens works to help museums, cultural institutions and informal educators provide authentic math programming that is relevant to their core offerings. UTeach team members conduct site visits, engage in content research develop concepts and ideas and then create a model or exhibit to fit and facilitate the learning opportunity. Following completion of her own UTeach program, Lauren served as a math teacher, department head and Apprentice Teacher mentor. In collaboration with with three UTeach professors Lauren published Teaching Algebra and Geometry Concepts by Modeling Telescope Optics, Mathematics Teacher in 2008. The article idea began with a UTeach Project Based Instruction course and it is really a great example of leveraging a maker experience to share and teach core math concepts and it is a precursor to Lauren’s work at MathHappens.




Rich LeGrand

Rich runs Charmed Labs, a small company located in Austin TX that caters to robot-builders and makers. His past projects have included GigaPan, a gigapixel imaging system, TeRK, the Telepresence Robotics Kit, and Pixy, an easy-to-use robot vision system. He also keeps a notebook of cool ideas that he imagines will change the world, if only he had enough time. Much of his spare time is spent with his two boys, and like all parents he wants them to succeed in something they truly enjoy but secretly wishes they will eventually choose a career in STEAM.