Growing up in the Pacific NW part-time on a farm and highly involved in Girl Scouts, environmental and community stewardship became embedded values at a young age.
In high school, Sarah O’Sell became interested in technology and art, and achieved international success in business through DECA. Traveling for business competitions and interviewing industry experts brought to her attention the challenges our linear systems face for achieving sustainability goals, as well as the power of design to influence decisions.
Sarah leveraged these interests to pursue a B.S. in Industrial Design and minors in UX Design and Business Administration at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, with the intent to launch a company for sustainable design and marketing. For two years, she co-lead a multidisciplinary team of eight specialists to develop and pitch a clean tech product, the Smart Solar Window, earning $115,000 in national grants, local research funding, and international recognition.
After graduation in 2015, she became the first Industrial Design Lead for the fashion tableware company, Rosanna Inc., in Seattle, WA, where 3D printing enabled their team to 1) improve the quality of our product pitch presentations, 2) reduce development time while increasing accuracy before ordering production molds, and 3) greatly expand their client opportunities due to the ability to rapidly develop custom, detailed pieces.
Working with and traveling to visit international factories re-ignited her passion for sustainable and socially responsible design, and highlighted the key role 3D printing will play in enabling a future of helical, human and earth +positive systems. In her spare time, Sarah has explored design solutions for the home that can be 3D printed by a novice user. These prints have the following qualities; minimal finishing, flat-pack or modular assembly, easy-to-access hardware, tested, visual instructions, and are posted for free online.
In her opinion, in a world transitioning to a paradigm of common robots, AI, AR, and VR, our most important asset will be the human capacity to care, learn, and share. Sarah is now in the Bay Area pursuing roles related to sustainability and 3D printing, studying to launch a sustainable design, marketing, and production house with these values in mind.
Nora Toure: Could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
Sarah O’Sell: 3D printing is not a technology I was aware of until my first University CAD class, where it became an essential part of the prototyping process for physical products.
In the engineering department, there were not many women advisors and few in my cohort. I’m grateful to have had the self-motivation and excitement to pursue the technology, and owe much of that to my mother. Thank you, Mom, for believing that women can succeed in STEM fields, enabling me to foster a passion for exploration and innovation through Girl Scouts, supporting my interest in alternative college-in-high school courses, and taking me to the library to devour all the books we could carry. We’ve had our differences over the years, but this support isn’t something that all women have growing up!
Read the rest at Women in 3D Printing