Meet our Newest Team Member!

July 12, 2021

Makey Makey is a small team, but we are ready to move and forge new directions in invention literacy and maker education. That's why we are expanding our team to help us get new products to market!

Meet Derek Runberg

Title: Director of Product and Programs

Tell us a little bit about what led you to JoyLabz.

I am coming to JoyLabz in a bit of a roundabout way. As a previous middle school technology teacher of 5 years, I jumped ship into the private sector about 8 years ago to write content and do professional development for another maker technology company. In that company, I moved into a role that oversaw corporate and strategic partnerships and a number of other special projects and initiatives. Over time I missed education, teaching, and being a part of the learning process and the community of educators looking to bring STEAM and invention into their classrooms. 

That learning process and my passion for it combined with the rockstar team here at JoyLabz was just a perfect fit to get back to my first love. Being here allows me to combine the skills and knowledge gained from my previous business roles with my love of education to make an impact in the company.

But, more importantly, help make the classroom a place of curiosity, invention and joy again! 

"Director of Product and Programs" sounds like a cool gig- but what does it mean?

Titles are always such funny things! My role plays a split position; my primary role is to help ideate and shepherd new products through the design, prototyping, manufacturing and maintenance processes. This includes things like: setting a product strategy, determining what goes into kits and/or new products, thinking about how products relate to one another and most importantly examining what learners get out of the process of using our products to make their ideas come to life.

Derek's Home Office

My secondary role is in programs which you will see more of in the near future. How does Makey Makey support educators in their classroom? How might we cultivate and grow our community of users, content creators, trainers, and resellers? How do we better support other partners in supporting their customers using Makey Makey? How can we help scale our efforts in and out of the classroom?

All of these questions can be answered through different program offerings that ultimately support students inventing things and bringing what they thought were just ideas to fruition. It’s a big challenge with a lot of moving parts but working with other people to solve problems is one of my passions that drive me!

Do you play video games?

I play a fair share of video games! I have two sons and we play video games together on the family Nintendo Switch. We even pull my wife into the mix every once and a while for Mario Kart. I personally love games that have expansive worlds and open ended storylines. Zelda Breath of the Wild for the win!

You’ve made a lot of cool stuff! What’s your favorite creation?

Wow! Another hard question... I have built a number of things and continue to create, build and tinker on a daily basis. I have a personal prototyping shop that I work out of a few times a week. I feel like I am constantly building or repairing things all the time! 

I would say that my favorite things that I have created were actually the two books that I have authored and the projects that went into them. (See The SparkFun Guide to Processing and The Arduino Inventor's Guide ) The content in these books primarily came from projects that were created in my classroom and massaging them into book form and the amount of rigor that went into that was more challenging than any other project I have done including remodeling my own house!

In the end, there are so many things… scale model building, tabletop wargaming, cosplay for my kids, drawing cartoons, cooking and gardening. It’s all building and creating! 

I am so excited to take all of these ideas, roll up my sleeves, and start inventing new product ideas here at JoyLabz. Plus, I get to work with Makey Makey on a daily basis!

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