BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – ‘In a few years, the leaders of the engineering industry will be women’- said the representative of GE Garage Brussels.
We were lucky enough to get the chance to go behind-the-scenes of 3D printing at the GE Garage in Brussels and learn how it affects women’s career choices. But before we start creating and printing there are some points to discuss.
What is GE Garage?
GE Garage, a project devoted to conveying the latest innovations in a digestible way to the greater audience, was created in the USA in 2012. The idea was not simply a result of GE’s expansion desires but rather to fill in a void and raise awareness. Thanks to our (too) comfortable new generations, as they said, there is an outstanding skill gap on the job market.
Continuing the observation, we learnt that our generation ‘forgot to be curious and interested‘. GE Garages’ main aims are to inspire its audience and trigger the first little light of interest, which after will go on its way. The ultimate goal is to enhance knowledge and stimulate our new engineers-to-be.
While 30 years ago, engineers had to gain solid artisan skills, today, with the help of technology and innovation, these careers got much more idea, creativity and imaginative driven. Today, you can sit down, close your eyes, imagine the pink triangle making a hole in a giant blue round shape and click: print. Or imagine all this backwards, upwards, downwards and once again, click: print.
Following their mind-sticking 10 minutes intro, we quickly jotted down some interesting background info:
- GE has 300,000 employees in 170 countries
- GE spent 5.4 billion dollars on R&D in 2013
- 3D printing is called additive manufacturing
- 3D printing is directly made from a digital file (just like your home printer) or through an alternative scanner
- Once you click print, the printer lays the slices of the object on each other, layer per layer
- 3D printing is applied from designing to architecture, from engineering to medical purposes, from aerospace to fashion industries.
Lady Gaga uses 3D printing techniques to her latest shows.
We spent two hours amongst these seemingly simple machines that from metal, glass, food, wax, plastic or even human tissues create unbelievably complex objects. Colours, size, shape, surface, moving parts, objects in objects, just name it. We felt our creativity was blooming. And perhaps this is soon the all-what-it-takes skill to succeed!
Creativity is the road to success
The world we have been waiting for so long is just around the corner: there are some industries, where women are envisioned as the soon-to-be-leaders if they demonstrate one skill well. And that is CREATIVITY!
According to GE Garages, in a few years ‘women will take over the designing/engineering/architecture industries thanks to such innovations as 3D printing, laser cutting or CNC.’
This statement was far beyond the answer we were looking for while questioning the friendly representative of GE. Of course, we know that women tend to be more creative – or at least we like to believe so -, but we also know that women tend to avoid tech-savvy educations, jobs and even more a life-long career.
At GE Garage, they proved us wrong. As they see we are inevitably and unstoppably going towards an era of skills shift. Jobs once requiring artisan skills and handiness, today require only imagination and a little software knowledge. If we go further on this line of thought, we can see that girls usually do not opt for designing, architectural, or engineering education because it is too technical and requires male-characteristic abilities. However, and here comes the bottom-line, if the whole industry shifts because of R&D and innovations, creativity will outweigh hard-core technical know-how giving the chance for women to utilise their skills better. In alignment with the shifts in the industry and skills, women’s educational choices will alter as well. If only we could start again!
Looking around at the workshop we couldn’t argue with their points; there were certainly more women than men.
Though all these shifts are still to come, one thing is unquestionable: interest makes knowledge.
And this was the point when we could not resist our interest anymore and started to work on our very first 3D project.
Get up to the 5th floor, turn, and get inspired: Welcome to GE Garage, Brussels
Entering the spacious room the EU Commission’s (Berlaymont) iconic building welcomes your eyes. Enjoy the proximity:
To the right, diligently lined chairs assure: GE Garage is serious. They usually welcome 40 people at their workshops.
To the left, cozy, but minimalistic playground area:
The 10-minute presentation was right to the point, and all about ‘making things exciting‘:
And finally, let’s get to the creation part: we started our first 3D design. If you want to try how it works, go to Tinecad, and let your creativity lead your hands – (Tinecad is a free, online designing program. Once ready, save your masterpiece and find the nearest stationery with 3D printer)
Yes, you guessed it right: we were making MissCareerless alive in 3D.
20 minutes later: you can see how the printer puts the layers on each other. This printer is among the least sophisticated ones. Costs: 2,500 EUR.
And, 30 minutes later: we are officially alive in 3D!
Well ladies, even if we’re not yet Miss Engineers, today our confidence and technical skills surely got some refreshment. But perhaps what GE Garage would love to hear even more – and it is our pleasure to say so – we got curious. We got interested. And we will be back. Next time it’s laser cutting!
We hope you enjoyed our innovative event review. If you are around Brussels, do not miss the next 3D printing workshop at GE Garage!
Hope to report you soon. Until then, enjoy how MissCareerLess is created:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Virag was born in Hungary but currently lives in Belgium. A former ballet dancer, who after leaving the stage started to build up her life #2. While being a diplomat and a communication & marketing coordinator, Virag slowly started to give in and listen to her heart. That is when she started to write and gave birth, first, to her own blog, and then to several published articles. She believes in honesty, openness and that women are the strongest creatures on earth. More about Virag…