Nov 12, 2015 | By Tess
Though the gender gap between men and women is shrinking in many ways across the United States, with wage gaps at the forefront of the news, and women breaking into previously male-dominated industries, there are some areas that have remained consistently male dominated. Among these fields and industries are the tech industry and engineering studies, the latter of which has only about a 20% female enrolment. Even more extreme, women reportedly only account for 13% of engineering positions held in the United States, while males are six times more likely to pursue a career in the field.
In an effort to counter this unbalance, one small startup, KiraKira, has launched a kickstarter campaign to fund its new program that utilizes a combination of jewelry design and 3D printing to introduce young girls to the technology of engineering practices.
The San Francisco based KiraKira was founded by Suz Somersall, an industrial designer with a successful jewelry design business and Malena Southworth a UX designer. Somersall, who studied visual art and architecture at Brown University, and then 3D printing and manufacturing at Rhode Island School of Design decided to extend her experience and knowledge of the trade in order to help teach girls and young women the ins and outs of 3D modelling software and 3D printing technology.
While the project itself is captivating and will be sure to draw people in, the jewelry design aspect is part of the bigger effort of introducing a young generation of girls to technology and interfaces that could lead them into pursuing a career in engineering. Somerall explains, “After researching tutorials to teach my students and interns, I realized that most existing classes are very uninspiring and intimidating for girls. Rather than teach girls how to design wrenches, I wanted to teach girls how to 3D model through something that would excite them, and I realized an easy way to do this: through jewelry design.”
Essentially, KiraKira will teach jewelry design through engineering software programs such as Autodesk, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, which are used professionally by mechanical and aerospace engineers, architects, and graphic designers to name but a few.
Currently, some classes are available on the KiraKira website which were developed by the company’s founders in collaboration with female mechanical engineering students from the University of Virginia and various middle schools and high schools. The program works by easing the students through beginner courses that teach the fundamentals of 2D sketches and 3D renderings as well as the basic vocabulary needed for the software.
As stated on their kickstarter page, “After completing our classes, our initial goal is to have our students create their own designs which we will help them put into production and share/sell…Our end goal is for them to realize their potential in any number of engineering careers.”
The kickstarter campaign runs until the 2nd of December, 2015 and has a $30,000 goal. If the $30,000 goal is reached the funding will be put towards creating 100 new classes to teach the basics of mechanical engineering and 3D modelling, as well as developing KiraKira’s online academy and e-commerce shop.
The campaign also has a stretch goal of $75,000, which would allow for KiraKira to establish a PopUp Academy, 3D printing and design school in San Francisco and New York City. The PopUp Academy would offer in house lessons and allow the students to interact with the 3D printers as well as the software being taught.
The incredibly wide variety of uses 3D printing technology can be used for has opened many doors; in this case, it is providing the opportunity to make the male-dominated field of engineering more accessible to a young generation of females. We hope KiraKira’s effort in creating a comfortable, engaging, and creative environment in which young girls can learn about 3D printing technology is successful.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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yzorg wrote at 11/12/2015 5:16:57 PM:
Cool, but gender stereotype enhancing.... is a thumbs down for me. Making Jewelery is not engineering.. its rather designing.