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First lady invites Anthem teen to join her for State of the Union

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WASHINGTON – Joe Hudy is not your average 16-year-old.

The self-described “maker” from Anthem has been to the White House to demonstrate one of his inventions, has traveled the world to show off other creations and has landed an internship at Intel. All before graduating high school.

But Joe said he was still excited to be back in Washington this week, one of a handful of people invited to join first lady Michelle Obama at the Capitol to watch the 2014 State of the Union address.

“Who gets invited to the White House once, let alone twice?” asked Joe’s mother, Julie Hudy, from a Washington hotel room Monday.

“Me,” Joe chimed in, jokingly.

Joe first came to the attention of the White House two years ago when he was one of 100 students from around the country invited by the administration to a science fair. It was there that his Extreme Marshmallow Cannon stole the show – and wowed President Barack Obama.

Obama asked Joe to show him how the cannon worked. Next thing he knew, Joe, then 14, was trying to make sure he didn’t hit anyone.

“At the time, I didn’t see his (Obama’s) expression,” Joe said of the encounter, which was captured on video as the president gasped in excitement. After the fact, Joe thought the photographs were “really funny.”

Since his first visit to the White House, Joe has been building inventions as part of the do-it-yourself “maker” movement and traveling the world to show off his creations.

During a trip to Rome in October, Joe was approached by an Intel representative. That led to an internship for Joe, a junior at the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, with the American chip maker in Chandler.

“I think as a kid, we all hate being bored,” Joe said Monday. “Instead of being bored, you can make something.”

Joe wears his slogan – “Don’t be BORED … MAKE something” – on a plastic orange bracelet. The same phrase was featured on a business card that he gave to Obama two years ago.

Julie Hudy said she was excited for her son and his accomplishments.

“You just want your kids to be happy,” she said, adding that her son is made happy by making things and inspiring others to join him. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Joe’s grandfather, Mike Williams, said he can still remember that when Joe was younger he would build things out of cardboard and, later, wood.

“He was always building things,” said Williams, who is retired and lives down the street from the Hudys in Anthem.

Williams said Monday he was sworn to secrecy when he found out that Joe had been invited to the State of the Union, but “as soon as we got the all-clear this morning … we all got on our Facebook pages. It’s what proud grandparents do.”

But even someone with as many accomplishments as Joe still has at least one more to achieve after the State of the Union concludes.

“His next accomplishment is graduating high school,” said Julie Hudy. Joe agreed.