Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Creativity Labs Bring E-Textiles to the IU CEWiT Launch!

This past Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, Indiana University held the official launch ceremony for the new Center of Excellence for Women in Technology (CEWiT). The Center, the first campus-wide establishment of its kind in the nation, will seek to promote participation of women in technology-related fields throughout all stages of education and career. Since women are woefully underrepresented in technology fields, CEWiT is an extremely important initiative.

Sophia, in a CEWiT shirt that she enhanced with a LilyPad Arduino and several LEDs, "sits to take a stand" in the Red Chair at the CEWiT launch.  The Sit With Me campaign seeks to bring more women to the table in IT and computing fields.
CEWiT celebrated its launch with a keynote speech by Moira Gunn, host of NPR's Tech Nation, followed by a reception, where women from all across campus showcased the technology they use in their work and research. This ranged from Google Glass, to 3D printed objects, to a friendly baby seal robot, and more!

Naomi Thompson and Sophia Bender of the IU Creativity Labs brought a plethora of e-textile artifacts to display as part of this showcase. We had bags, shirts, e-cuffs, puppets, and a solar-powered backpack, all shining brightly with LilyPad LEDs, and some controlled by the LilyPad Arduino. We had Modkit running on a computer, showing how simple programming e-textiles can be. We also had a copy of the newly published Textile Messages book, edited and written by several friends and contributors to this blog, for visitors to leaf through.

Story Image
The Indiana Daily Student, IU's student newspaper, ran a feature on the CEWiT launch and snapped this picture of Sophia at the e-textile table.
Visitors to our table included members of both the IU and wider Bloomington, IN community. We spoke with teachers, journalists, Girl Scout troop leaders, an entire (very interested!) Girl Scout troop, and even Moira Gunn herself! The table was humming with activity for the entire duration of the reception.

Naomi sits in the Red Chair and shows off the e-cuff she made.
As reported in the Textile Messages book, e-textiles is the first computing field to be dominated by women. It represents an alternative technological pathway to that of more traditionally male-dominated fields like robotics. As such, the Creativity Labs' e-textile researchers plan to remain deeply involved in CEWiT. Dr. Kylie Peppler is a member of the Center's faculty alliance, and research assistant Sophia is committee director of the Affinity Groups Committee for CEWiT's student alliance. In the future, we hope to train CEWiT members to run e-textile workshops for youth in our community. We congratulate CEWiT on its launch, and wish it all the best!


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