Who says science can’t be fashionable? Certainly not Erin Winick, creator and CEO of Sci Chic. She’s been creating science inspired 3D printed jewelry since October 2015, and let me tell y’all, they’re some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I first “met” Erin when she was running the I Am SciComm twitter account and tweeted about a blog post she wrote called a Life Shaped By Space. Erin talks about being a Florida girl and how the space program (and her grandfather’s involvement in it) helped shape her love of science. Uhm, hello? As another space loving Florida girl, how could I not respond to that?
Erin, a fifth year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Florida, is an amazing woman that I’m thrilled to have got in touch with. As a preppy, Lilly Pulitzer loving Floridian, I get teased for wearing my bright colors and style in “science settings.” What does that even mean? STEM women have to support each other, and through Erin, I’ve found tons of support from other science loving, chic women on social media.
Read on to find out how Erin first started Sci Chic, got involved in science, and her words of wisdom for other women in STEM. Don’t forget check out the awesome 3D printed designs she has on Sci Chic!
What made you first fall in love with science?
My love of science has been an evolving thing throughout my life. As a kid I checked out stacks of Bill Nye DVDs from the library, was a loyal Mythbusters viewer, and built huge LEGO towers and Rube Goldberg machines in my living room. I loved making anything and everything I could, which steered my path towards mechanical engineering.
However, a huge catalyst for me was my experience living in Florida. My grandfather was an engineer on the Saturn V and shuttle programs, so my family has a huge passion and appreciation for the space industry. I grew up waking up at 3am to see a shuttle launch as a tiny dot in the sky and having NASA TV on 24/7. I even drove across the state to camp out to see the last ever shuttle launch. Having a family environment so appreciative of science, engineering, and learning made my love of science and engineering an easy thing to develop.
What inspired you to start Sci Chic?
Sci Chic is a combination of a lot of my passions. I was president of the University of Florida chapter of the Society of Women Engineers as a junior and helped kick start our first 3D printing outreach day. I saw the huge impact that this event had on the girls at the event. I wanted to find an easily accessible way to impact kids around the world like this. On top of this, I have sewn since I was a kid and have worked with 3D printing at UF and my summer internships. Combining my love of fashion design, 3D printing, and STEM outreach created Sci Chic!
What goals do you hope to accomplish with Sci Chic? What are you still striving for?
More than anything I am trying to show the creativity and art in science and spark everyday conversations about STEM. People often perceive the fields as a path just for people that like physics and math in high school, but we need people with diverse talents and passions. Science is creative, fun, and even fashionable at its core and I am trying to show that through these jewelry designs. Wearing Sci Chic jewelry gives you a way to help spread the science conversation by talking about the 3D printing that created the piece and the science inspiration behind it.
Moving forward, I’m hoping to increase Sci Chic’s reach as much as possible, keep developing pieces to cover as many areas of science as possible, and keep creating more educational written and video content to pair with the pieces. We are working with women in STEM from around the country to create collaborative jewelry pieces moving forward. A portion of these sales will be donated to the STEM related charity of their choice.
Why did you choose 3D printing as the medium to create your pieces?
First of all, I love 3D printing. I am a maker at heart and am fascinated with any new ways to bring making in the home and school environments. 3D printing allows for a huge amount of customization that many other methods cannot provide. I can easily adjust the size, color, material and designs of our pieces on my computer. 3D printing is an accessible gateway into manufacturing. The concept itself is fairly simple, laying down layers of plastic to build up a shape you create, so we are able to bring it to events and demonstrate it, giving people a window into manufacturing techniques, which are normally not easy to see or transportable.
Would you like to branch out in science fashion? How else would you like to promote it?
Absolutely! I have been working on developing ways to more easily 3D print on fabrics. I debuted my first skirt recently where the bottom has decals that are all 3D printed. On top of this, I am planning on releasing a line of shirts soon that pair with our jewelry designs. I hope to continue offer more diverse products in the wearable area.
What is your favorite design in your collection?
My favorite is actually one of the original designs we released, the Trajectory Necklace. It shows the path that the Apollo 11 astronauts took from the Earth to the Moon (aka Trans-lunar Injection). I love the look of the piece and the reactions I gets when I tell people what it actually stands for. Plus it looks awesome in 3D printed stainless steel!
Other than your amazing jewelry, how else do you combine your chic side with your science side?
I love going to events wearing clothing themed for the event. I have gotten so much positive feedback from doing this. It helps spread awareness to certain areas of science that people might not normally think about and it gives people an entry point to ask you questions about the topic you are there to discuss.
Through Sci Chic I have learned to fully embrace my passions and not be afraid to show them!
What advice would you give to young girls who want to get involved in STEM?
There are so many resources and programs out there for you. Do not be afraid to explore them. The STEM fields are for everyone and there are tons of people out there who want you to succeed. Do not feel like you are alone! Ask questions to people in science or engineering that inspire you. Most would be happy to take time out of their day to meet with you, have a phone call or send an email. Extend a hand out to let us help pull you up and give you the benefit of our network.
Also, I would encourage you to explore science and engineering in your free time. Make things at home with building kits or with paper towel rolls. Read science articles and books. Be curious. Don’t let you interest in STEM go away. Even if you go into a completely different field, being scientifically literate and appreciative of what the fields provide is a wonderful thing to embrace.
Any final thoughts?
I am always open to answering any questions people have about the science behind our pieces or 3D printing in general. You can follow me on Twitter @bcofengineering and Instagram @erinwinick. You can find Sci Chic at scichic.com
Cheers, Josie .