This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
Doctor Turnera Croom is the founder of Vets in 3D, a start-up offering 3D printing classes with a focus on Veterinary Medicine and animals.
Nora Toure: Doctor, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
Turnera Croom: My background professionally has always been Veterinary Medicine. I graduated from historic Tuskegee School of Vet Med, went straight into the Army Veterinary Corps and never looked back. But when I looked forward, I saw entrepreneurialism in my future. So really it’s the entrepreneurial spirit that brought me into 3D Printing—self-study into this technology, and the willpower to attempt a startup with it.
Nora Toure: Could you detail your first experience with 3D Printing?
Turnera Croom: My first experience with 3D Printing was in my house by myself—exciting right? It wasn’t another person who showed me or suggested it. I was online just looking at how this 3D industry is expanding, and I thought, “I want to do that!” I was so excited when I received my printer. I think I stayed in all weekend.
Nora Toure: Do you remember your first 3D printed design?
Turnera Croom: My first actual 3D Printed design was a Dissected Frog model. While I did not design it, I downloaded it from a site and attempted to print it. It came out great, and is one the lynchpins of my 3D Print/ Pre-Vet courses, where I show kids that using fewer live animals for Veterinary training is possible with 3D Printing.
Nora Toure: You are the founder of Vets in 3D. I understand Vets in 3D is focusing on providing pets-related designs to Veterans and Veterinarians. Could you explain furthermore what Vets in 3D is and the services that you are providing?
Turnera Croom: Vets In 3D provides 3D Printing courses with a focus on Veterinary Medicine. Kids love animals. Kids love 3D Printing. No brainer there. My fellow Veterans come into play when I start the hiring process. I plan to train, hire, and send them in a positive small business direction. In addition to the courses, I provide 3D printed promotional and marketing items for other small businesses. This includes business cards, keychains, name tags, etc.—all with the company’s logo, name, or slogan on them.
Nora Toure: Who are your customers and what are they printing?
Turnera Croom: These days, my customers are other small businesses who need promotion, and want to have some items that are unique and conversation starters.
Nora Toure: How did you come up with this idea in the first place?
Turnera Croom: People come up with ideas all the time. I am blessed and fortunate to have a full time job as a USDA Veterinarian while I am fleshing out the business. I became interested in the 3D Print industry, decided to invest in myself by purchasing my first printer, a MakerGear M2. Once I got that printer, I fell in love—and the printer is now jokingly my boyfriend. I work all day and come right home to printing.
Nora Toure: What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
Turnera Croom: The 3D Printing industry today is moving so very fast. If you allow yourself to get sucked into what everyone else is doing, you can get discouraged. This is why I am driven to introducing this technology to the youngsters here in Kalamazoo, MI. They have access to the Kalamazoo Promise, which provides tuition and fees for kids to attend MI colleges after they’ve matriculated through Kalamazoo Public Schools. While the statistics are promising, and more kids are definitely going to college, at Vets In 3D, we focus on the kids that come back without a degree. So even though more students are entering Michigan colleges, only 21 % of kids who attend two year colleges earned a post-secondary credential. Often these students are from families of color. These are the students I want in my Vets In 3D MakerSpace.
If I can get to Kalamazoo kids prior to entering college, I plan to inspire them to move into any number of STEM careers coming out of Veterinary Medicine, 3D Printing, or some combination of the two.
Some Kzoo kids are the first in their family to even think about being able to afford college, so the college mentality that families need is sometimes lacking. This simply means that some pre-college etiquette items as well as those soft skills in communication, empathy, and teamwork are needed, and we provide those at Vets In 3D as well.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Turnera Croom: We can encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing by them SEEING more women in 3D Printing. My focus, as a woman of African descent is to make sure that young Black girls SEE this doctor, CHAT with this veteran, and GET A RECOMMENDATION from this Black female entrepreneur. Then they can carry on the tradition of giving back as they mature.
Also I think that as more of my fellow female Veterans learn about, and are trained in this technology, you’ll see many more females in this industry.
You can follow Turnera and Vets in 3D through the company’s website.