Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 2023 Construct3D conference, a remarkable event centered on the essential aspects and innovations of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) education, as well as the exciting fields of 3D printing and digital fabrication. The conference offered a diverse range of workshops and talks, which allowed me to explore NYU’s School of Engineering’s Tandon Campus, including the ITP/IMA, IDM, and the Game Center.
Each morning, I found myself seated in the same red chair, eagerly listening to educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs sharing their distinct and unique approaches to teaching and learning. As a student in high school, these talks not only offered me a new perspective on how I should view my personal education, but also highlighted the incredible opportunity that school provides: the ability to create.
Throughout a significant portion of my educational career, I viewed school merely as a place to complete assignments in order to achieve my desired grade—somewhere that learning and passion existed independently, rather than an environment where education depended on passion and vice versa. It wasn’t until middle school, that I truly understood, beyond doubt, that education and excitement simply cannot exist without each other.
Consequently, when Sylvia Martinez, Construct3D’s keynote speaker, said, “Human beings are compelled to make beautiful things. This is not at odds with technology,” that I immediately knew what she meant. As a woman in STEAM, driven by both passion and knowledge, I know innovation and technology inherently go hand in hand. At Construct3D, I had the opportunity to observe numerous inspiring speakers and engineers demonstrate this shared belief.
Anouk Wipprecht’s work displays the seamless integration of technology and beauty. As a Netherlands-based, hi-tech fashion designer, she works in the emerging field of “Fashion Tech,” focusing on the intersection of fashion design, engineering, science, and user experience. Her unorthodox creations indicate a departure from traditional couture conventions, as she produces tech-enhanced wares that push the boundaries of what fashion can be. Wipprecht’s work goes beyond aesthetics, incorporating advanced technologies to create “technological couture.”
Wipprecht utilizes sensors to monitor stress levels, allowing her garments to become responsive to the user’s environment and move accordingly. Her Intel-Edison-based “Spider Dress” is a perfect example of technological couture; it is a piece of wearable technology. The dress has 3D-printed animatronic limbs that respond to external stimuli using proximity and respiration monitors. Consequently, the Spider Dress is able to defend and define the wearer’s personal space. Anouk Wipprecht’s work is fierce and effortlessly shatters our definition of fashion. She showcases the harmonious coexistence of technology and beauty, all while breaking down conventional fashion norms and redefining our perception of style.
Nonetheless, the concept of “beautiful things” extends beyond aesthetics to encompass meaningful experiences. This idea can be exemplified by two female engineers, Godwyn Morris and Yasmin Keats, who share a common goal of creating beauty for others, rather than themselves or the public eye. As the director of Dazzling Discoveries, Morris is committed to nurturing young minds by teaching children how to engage in engineering through hands-on activities and using simple materials, such as paper. Her approach aims to level the playing field, ensuring that all children have the necessary information to participate in STEAM-related activities.
On the other hand, Yasmin Keats, the executive director of Open Style Lab, strives to create a world where all people have access to style, regardless of cognitive and physical ability. Keats designs technologies that cater to the needs of differently abled individuals, empowering them to feel comfortable and confident in their appearance. Similarly, both women produce beauty in the world, whether it is through empowering youth or inclusivity. While the notion of equality may not be commonly associated with beauty, the endeavors of Godwyn Morris and Yasmin Keats demonstrate that striving to create a better world is undeniably a beautiful thing.
These female engineers’ work does not only support Sylvia Martinez’s claim that the human desire to make beautiful things is not at odds with technology but also powerfully showcases the vast and diverse range of beautiful things they can create. Construct3D is truly an inspirational forum for all those interested in STEAM by providing an experience packed with enlightening presentations and workshops. I could not imagine a better way to spend a couple of summer days in the city!
About the Author
Eliza Horowitz is the Student Robotics Lead at Birch Wathen School, Class of 2025.