Today, Tom is going to ask Tracy questions about the # 3DTalk meetup, that she attended virtually. Tracy will talk about the things that she learned and realized in this meetup, like the role of tech in jobs, how everything comes back to art and design and how companies in the industry need to have a little more end user empathy focus.
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# 3DTalk Meetup
Hi, everyone. This is Tom and Tracy on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast. Today, we’ve got a little bit of a different format where I’m actually going to be asking Tracy some questions about a recent # 3DTalk Meetup that she went to.
I virtually went to.
You attended it and you can attend virtually or in person, right?
Yes, either way. First let me give a little background. The WomenIn3DPrinting.com group was started by Nora Toure of Sculpteo. We’ve interviewed her recently. She and Barbara Hanna of have now joined forces on # 3DTalk. Barbara is the founder of Cyant. She’s a technologist and entrepreneur who wants to foster technology education and connecting them with individuals. So # 3DTalk is a co-initiative from both Cyant and Women in 3D Printing.
There was a lot of discussion about really end user empathy and really being focused on what people think of the 3D printer and not just the 3D printer and technology. They had had a much more people focus than a lot of the other things that I’ve listened to and sat through.
When you say that about people and the 3D printer, was she referring to consumers, or she’s in the education space so is she talking about students? What was her real focus?
The thing is that they were just moderators. They were asking questions. The group that they brought together was really diverse. They had Sarah O’Rourke who is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Autodesk. She’s really focused on youth and education in 3D printing. They had Carrie Motamedi, and she is an evangelist for STEAM education. She’s the former CMO at TechShop, so she has a really strong tech background. Christine Mytko, she’s a seventh grade science teacher at a K-8 and STEAM coordinator at Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley, California. I have to tell you, I want to go back to seventh grade. Her class sounded like the coolest class ever. She even talked about how she convinced the faculty, parents, committees to give her money to buy a bioprinter. She’s so cool. The last one that was on the panel was Jane Yarnell and she is actually a 10th grade student. They were each really taking it from their own perspective and talking about other kids, other faculty, other companies that were all working on this. It was really people-focused.
Tell me, is this like one of those meetups like when we did a Blab where the people are all having a discussion and then other people including you are really more spectators, is that how it works?
Exactly. Nora and Barbara asked the questions as moderators. A lot of the questions were submitted in through the Facebook group that was set up ahead of time for everyone who RSVPed. Then they asked for questions from the audience and questions for those of us watching virtually.
Do you have a sense of how many people attended virtually?
I couldn’t see that. I wished I was there. It was the coolest looking space I’ve ever seen. They had a beautiful lookout and the train would go by.
The BART you mean?
The BART would go by in San Francisco. It was evening and they had wine. I was like, “Wow, I’m really missing out being virtual.” I’m a little jealous because I was sitting at my desk and you guys were downstairs, working, having dinner and everything. I was like, “Wow, I should have grabbed a glass of wine and setup here and kick back a little bit more and enjoyed the ambiance of it,” because it was really cool. It set this tone for a very relaxed conversation about 3D printing and about what it’s like to be women in 3D printing as well as how we can advance the technology and advance the industries.
Can you give us an idea of some of the major interesting discussions that came out of this particular meet up?
I had five a-has.
Five? I was going to settle for two or three. Five that’s great.
I had five. The first one was really that they were talking about the fact that the way that they have to use tech in all of their jobs and all of the places that they’re working with it and throughout, is that the gap between what new users and the experienced users want and need is so big that we have to find a way to close that gap. So that you can leap it faster, that’s always one of our goals here. That it’s not so giant that it really dissuades people from coming in. Barbara, one of the moderators for instance, comes from a tech background. Access to technology was always difficult, she was mentioning that. We really talked about even getting younger girls and younger women into it. They were talking about really having this idea that you can approach it from, and this is my second a-ha, from art to science or science to art or math to art, but you always end up with the art and design. That’s pretty much the message I got across of it, including the women who work for Autodesk.
Wait a second, you weren’t giving that message?
No, it was them. That’s why I was saying I was clapping.
You’re always saying, “Hey, we have to talk about the art and design aspects,” but you’re saying that’s what this people were talking about?
Yeah. Sarah, who worked from Autodesk, was saying that their goal and her goal, what she’s doing in the education side of 3D printing of their CAD software and everything else that they’re doing, is cultivating a lifetime vision of making, of engaging through whatever method that means. If you come in through engineering, if you come in through math, if you come in through art, if you come in through gaming, it doesn’t matter. She just wants to get people making. I love that message. That was one of the other things. The other one that I really thought was that we have to build a relationship with technology. I thought that that was so interesting.
The one who really pointed that out so much was Christine, the teacher that I talked about who has this really cool school. We can’t be treating it like it’s a beast we have to tame. That can happen a lot when you approach machinery. It can be a very girl thing sometimes and we wanted to sway that. She said, for a while there, she had this 3D printer, it was early on when she first incorporated it into this lab that she’s got. She was looking at it and going, “This thing is broken again. It’s got some filament jammed,” whatever it was. She was like, “You know what? I’m not going to sit here and call maintenance and wait for days for this to get fixed. I’m taking the machine apart and I’m just going to do it. Why am I being intimidated by this desktop machine?”
Good for her.
She’s like, “You have to build a relationship at which it serves you. You don’t serve it.”
I’ve met a lot of women that are intimidated about machines, engines of a car, things like that, and don’t want to touch them. What do we see on the news recently? It was in Minnesota. There’s an entire auto mechanic shop that is owned and run by women mechanics, four women, so that women will feel less intimidated when they go to the shop to get their car fixed.
Less like they’re getting scammed too. Then while you’re waiting, you can have a manicure.
That’s right. They had a nail salon attached to the place, which is brilliant to attract women. Because honestly, whether they’re single women or not, owning cars, I still think in certain parts of the country, and I’m not trying to perpetuate any stereotypes here, but oftentimes women are taking cars for maintenance more than man just because in certain parts of the country, there are still more women are maybe not working as much as the men in the household and so who has the time to get the car to get fixed more than the women. Now, don’t write in to me and say that I’m chauvinist because I’m really not.
No, because you take the car in, because I don’t.
Still, I do think that this is a good example of a business, it has nothing to do with 3D printing right now, but a business that is trying to make maintenance of a car more approachable to women who feel intimidate by or uncomfortable with it or whatever it might be. I applaud this example of just rolling up your sleeves and getting in to it. But I think that this is a stereotype that needs to be broken, and women need to be more comfortable understanding their machine. They probably would be a lot more comfortable taking apart their Cuisinart food processor if something gets tangled in there. Or, although I’m the one who untangles the vacuum when all you ladies’ long hair gets clogged in the rug attachment.
That ties to the other thing that actually is a very common problem. We’re approaching this all over the places, women entrepreneurs and other places, and we’re approaching this with our daughters as well. The idea that failure is a good thing. I’m the worst at it, I’m guilty of it more than anyone, in that being very perfectionist, something is not ready yet. I didn’t master this yet. We’re just not stepping out enough to say, “Hey, I failed. That’s okay, I can show this off because I learned something from it.” Not like, “Oh my gosh. I’m done. I failed, I’m done. I’m not good at this.” We have to embrace that so we can get our kids hooked, because that’s what we want.
You have to get over that. I remember, I grow up with a single mother who raised me. She took classes to learn how to tune up her old car. This is in the mid-70s when you still had to actually tune up a car where the timing light points. She was the only woman in the entire class, good for her.
The other ones is that maintenance skills leave a little to be desired, which was really an important opening for me to think about we definitely need to do an episode on that. Because what she was saying is that you’ve got these machines and they’re supposed to be maintained when you’re in this maker space or school environment or club or whatever that is. The reality is, you can train everyone to do it but that doesn’t mean they do it to the extent that you need to them to. They do it well enough, they do it regularly, they don’t get too busy and they rush out of there and they don’t do it. Lower maintenance machines in those environments are critical. I just hadn’t really thought of it from that perspective. You think it’s low maintenance but you still got to re-calibrate a build plate. It’s complicated and takes time.
To me, that’s probably the most common issue, depending on the printer that’s being used in a maker space. I have that experience also when I visited Vocademy where they have all the same machine, a whole bunch of them, but lots of different people using them. I actually brought that up, it’s like, boy, the first thing everybody must do when they come in here to use these machines is confirm that the build plate is level. Otherwise, you’re going to waste your time printing a print if the last person wrenched the build plate a little bit when they got the print off of it. I agree with you, lower maintenance machines are ones that can calibrate automatically at the beginning process of a print would make a lot of sense in these situations.
To that end, what they were saying is that really you need to have a little more end user empathy focus. Meaning that you have to put yourself in the end users’ shoes. You get a little caught up. The woman from Autodesk was saying, “We get a little a caught up in our CAD,” and we forget that other people are just approaching it brand new. Until we have that empathy for that or we put ourselves in their shoes or in that experience, we really can’t make better systems, make better software, make better printers. Also, we also don’t understand what they want to do with it. That was where the girl, Jane Yarnell, who’s a 10th grader, was talking about she wants to embellish her 3D prints and put rhinestones in it and sparkles in it. Finding a way to do that was complicated. Thinking back to our friend, Vicky Somma, who put mirrors in it. When you want to find a way, you will. But having end user empathy and understanding that there’s a level of girls out there using these 3D printers who want to do something with it, and that’s a growing market, is important as an industry.
I agree, it’s very important for girls. Honestly, it should be important for everyone who wants to do it. I like the idea of this empathy you’re talking about. I don’t think enough companies really have that. I don’t think enough companies in the desktop 3D printing industry have that. They think of it as, “We’re driven on this software, we do this. You need to learn how to use it. If you’re not going to learn, then you’re not our customer.” I think that attitude needs to change. If you want to grow as a company, get more customers, you’ve got to go where the customers are and think the way the customers think, or learn how they are thinking so you can meet their needs.
Just to wrap up, the Women in 3D Printing Group is planning local meet ups across the country in conjunction with tradeshows and other things that are going on, events that are going on. Sometime in February, they’re going to be in New York. They will be back in the San Francisco Bay area in April in conjunction with the conference that 3DHeals is sponsoring, which we’ll be talking about in the future episode. That’s the healthcare 3D printing side. They’re going to be in conjunction with that back in the Bay Area. Be looking for them and go to their website. We’ll be putting these events on our event calendar. I’ve been pushing them out on social media at @3DStartPoint on Facebook.
Just to remind our listeners, we do have an event calendar on 3DStartPoint.com where you can go and see upcoming events. That New York event is probably at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York. Then this new San Francisco event with 3D Heals, that will on the calendar as well. You can check that out, and for other events around the country as well.
That’s right. Thanks again for listening, everyone. Try and join a virtual conference, it’s really cool. This has been Tracy and Tom on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast.
- Women in 3D Printing Facebook group
- Nora Toure
- Nora Toure Interview
- Barbara Hanna
- Sarah O’Rourke
- Carrie Motamedi
- Christine Mytko
- Vicky Somma
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