Using Technology to Show the Fashion in Science

For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

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By Erin Winick, Founder, Sci Chic and Mechanical Engineering Student

Illustration by Alex Hanson, using images courtesy of Sci Chic 

Fashion and science. Two things people rarely imagine going together. As an engineering student, people often fail to understand all of the opportunities available through my degree. Many think I am only going to build bridges or work on math calculations for the rest of my life. Although these are career options, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields provide gateways to a lot more avenues than one might think. For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

Since I was a kid I have always loved sewing. I made my Halloween costumes, pillows, and pajamas with the steady guidance of my mom. Sewing is an awesome opportunity to work with your hands and use 2D patterns to make something 3D — something that is essentially an engineering challenge. I have expanded this love of hands-on making into a love for fashion and mechanical engineering. I am a loyal project runway fan and have branched into making my own clothes as well. One day I thought, “Why not combine the two?”

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Erin, Creator and CEO of Sci Chic
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Emily, CTO of Sci Chic

This led me to creating Sci Chic with my friend and fellow senior mechanical engineer, Emily Huber. At Sci Chic Emily and I use advanced technology to create science and engineering inspired jewelry and accessories, and pair them with educational resources. Within science there is immense beauty that the general public does not always recognize. There is art in everything from the trajectories followed by rockets to the intricate patterns of a circuit board. While working on my designs for Sci Chic, I am essentially creating art using traditional engineering tools, like computer aided 3D design software and 3D printing. The stigmas surrounding science traditionally being a man’s occupation, and something boring or difficult, have prevented many people from seeing the fashion in STEM.

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Erin’s 3D circuit board design
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Erin’s 3D circuit board design

My hope is that Sci Chic can help change this. Our goal is to break this stigma and spread science literacy through showing things like 3D printing and laser cutting can be combined with the beauty of science to create art. We aim to produce jewelry people find stunning, then inform them it was inspired by science so that they many find the beauty in STEM.

I believe as we move forward in the future of fashion, the people that succeed will be the ones that recognize the value of science, engineering and technology. As wearable technology becomes more prevalent, those in the fashion industry are going to need to have a greater understanding of technology, and its capabilities, to better serve those looking to buy their creations. It is time to embrace the STEM movement and accept art as not only a beneficial partner, but a necessary one.

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