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.

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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!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

E-Textile Design Night for IU Makes

IU Makes is a new organization created by people from all over IU's campus in order to share events, work produced, and highlight work being made using innovative technologies. One of its founders is Dr. Kylie Peppler, director of the Creativity Labs, and several of her students are IU Makes affiliates.

It was only a matter of time, then, before members of the lab would begin to offer making-related programs to the IU Makes community. The first of these was a lecture on September 5, at which Graduate Research Assistant Sophia offered a similar talk and activity to the one she did at the Bay Area Maker Faire in May 2013.

The second was an E-textile Design workshop on the evening of September 26. This workshop was open to the entire IU Makes community, and attracted about 20 participants from all across campus, including students, faculty, staff, and even a couple of children of IU Makes members!

Nicole Jacquard, co-founder of IU Makes and School of Fine Arts professor, shows off the e-cuff she made at the IU Makes e-textile workshop.
The program was one our lab has done many times before: e-cuffs. Participants first learned about circuits in series and parallel by playing with alligator clips and LEDs, and then sewed three LilyPad LEDs to a felt wristband with conductive thread. A conductive metal snap served as a switch.

Not everyone used felt for their wristband, however! One participant brought in this beautiful lace, and used it as the base for her light-up bracelet.
Creativity Labs members Kylie Peppler, Sophia Bender, Anna Keune, Naomi Thompson, and Verily Tan all helped to facilitate the event. We were all inspired by the wonderful creativity and enthusiasm surrounding us at the workshop, and were grateful for the IU Makes community's openness to our work and positive response.

Meghan McGrath, intern for the new student organization Women Empowering Success in Technology (WESiT), displays her Halloween-themed wristband.