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How 3D Printing Can Change Women’s Career Choices?

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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

Welcome to GE Garage - Think carefully
Welcome to GE Garage – Think carefully

Entering the spacious room the EU Commission’s (Berlaymont) iconic building welcomes your eyes. Enjoy the proximity:

View from the GE Garage, Brussels
View from the GE Garage, Brussels

To the right, diligently lined chairs assure: GE Garage is serious. They usually welcome 40 people at their workshops.

GE Garage Presentation room
GE Garage Presentation room

To the left, cozy, but minimalistic playground area:

GE Garage playing area
GE Garage playing area

The 10-minute presentation was right to the point, and all about ‘making things exciting‘:

Presentation by GE Garage
Presentation by GE Garage

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 Tinecadand 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)

Virag starts her 3D desing
Virag starts her 3D design

Yes, you guessed it right: we were making MissCareerless alive in 3D.

MissCareerLess comes in 3D
MissCareerLess comes 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.

IMG_0636

And, 30 minutes later: we are officially alive in 3D!

IMG_0641

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:

3D printing in live


Attended a great event that can help women’s career life? Don’t keep it a secret –  share with us!

 

Virag_GulyasABOUT 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

Virag
Virág Gulyás is the founder of MissCareer/Less, a startup dedicated to women who embrace change, and works as a freelance creative project manager. As a former ballet dancer, she faced the challenges of what it means to change a career and start a new life in a culture where success is defined in linear terms. She believes that raw, honest storytelling is the new generation of women empowerment. Virág is an author, speaker and develops workshops to empower women and young (un)employed people.
http://viraggulyas.com

3 thoughts on “How 3D Printing Can Change Women’s Career Choices?

  1. A very interesting idea 🙂

    I support the idea, that creativity and passion support innovations. I also support the idea, that innovations support the creation of new jobs and make lives easier, e.g. virtual reality can make certain jobs simplier and more efficient.

    But it is a different story to commercialize products that you create at home, e.g.
    – you have a blog, but how do you want to make money?
    – you have a short story, does it make you rich?
    – you have an used shirt…is that enough to open a new auction-platform?
    – if you are single…can you start a new dating-website for the mass market?
    – does a 3D-printer make an engineer out of you?

    Mass availability of this technology does not make you an expert. And if so, then you are one of millions of self-employed semi-engineers, you go in competition with the other millions of semi-engineers and again you are at the same point where you have been at the beginning 🙁

    If you want to become successful, it is not the technology on the market, which makes you “useful” (sorry), but it is you yourself (!)…by differentiation. Not being one of many, but being specialized among the mass.

    And therefore a master diploma in engineering is a gate opener (hard skills !).

    btw. each product has to go on the market after a certain time. Having 1000 “3D-printing engineers” is a waste for every company 🙁 Once the product is designed and ready for being “published”, you do not need designers anymore, but engineers from many fields to assure a high quality.

    but if you are an early bird you can make it!! 😀

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