Makers in the Community: Latham Hobbs

Makers in the Community: Latham Hobbs

By Taylor Soule

Latham Hobbs created an impromptu maker workshop in the creek bed behind his childhood home. There, 5-year-old Hobbs dismantled everything from bicycles to pedal cars to fishing lures — before putting them back together, of course. 

Two decades later, Hobbs’ workshop looks dramatically different. As a CNC programmer at Accumold in Ankeny, the 25-year-old directs high-tech computers that build complex microstructures from steel and plastic.

Though his haven is no longer at the bottom of a creek, and though he now spends more time putting things together than taking them apart, Hobbs’ maker outlook remains the same.

“The mindset you have to have is, ‘Nothing is impossible,’” Hobbs said. “That’s about the only way I can describe it. You just have to have the determination to make it possible.”

For Hobbs, making is practically second nature. He grew up watching his father take apart cars — only to rebuild them. That experience fueled Hobbs’ passion for working with his hands, and he quickly graduated from building with LEGO and K’Nex sets to building a bed frame from wood in high school. 

“I like mechanic stuff, anything gas-powered, anything pedal-powered, anything that can float or fly,” Hobbs said. “I had the mindset that if somebody could put it together, I could tear it apart and then put it back together. I can’t think of one thing I had as a kid I did not tear apart and put back together.” 

His versatility as a maker led to a 2007 Accumold Scholarship award. In his application, Hobbs said he enjoys “making tangible items that serve a purpose.” Hobbs earned an associate’s degree in tool- and die-making from Des Moines Area Community College and immediately found his niche at Accumold, which creates microstructures for cell phones, cars, surgical procedures and even the aerospace industry.  

Whether he’s building with LEGOs, K’Nex, wood or metal, Hobbs champions the power of manufacturing at every level. Plus, Hobbs said the manufacturing field is rife with opportunities, thanks to a growing demand for makers and their talents. 

“I love what I do,” Hobbs said. “I would definitely encourage other people to give it a try, whether it be on the design side or the production side, because America needs manufacturing. We need stuff made, and we need makers to do it.”

At work and at home, projects don’t always turn out perfectly, but for Hobbs, that’s an integral part of the making experience — and a constant challenge to create new solutions. 

“If something doesn’t work, you have to find a way to make it work, make it better or simplify it,” Hobbs said. 

In a field defined by experimentation and innovation, failure isn’t necessarily negative. It’s simply a chance to learn something new.

“Failure is probably the most frustrating part, but you can’t learn unless you have failure,” Hobbs said.

Whether it’s a creek bed, a manufacturing company, a science laboratory, a writers’ workshop or an art studio, one key principle defines making for Hobbs: “It’s about trying it. You honestly don’t know until you try.”  

Category: Make@SCI