Karina Popovich: “3D Printing Shows Students The Exciting And Less Daunting Parts Of Engineering”

 Karina Popovich [Source: Women in 3D Printing] Karina Popovich [Source: Women in 3D Printing]

Karina Popovich is a young female pursuing a career at the intersection of Business and Engineering.

She has a blazing curiosity for all things tech, and is constantly focusing her energy on bridging the STEM education gap among underrepresented groups. Karina is currently studying at the Dyson School of Business at Cornell University, running a company that is making 3D printing accessible to underfunded schools, and creating a clothing line to inspire girls in STEM and leadership to feel confident and empowered every day. When Karina is not in school, she is at a Makerspace where she works on fun and unique projects like engineering a business card.

Nora Toure: Could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?

Karina Popovich: I was first introduced to 3D-printing through a mandatory modeling class in high school. Among all of my peers, I immediately fell in love with the promise of creating models and physical creations out of nothing. 3D-printing has been my gateway to engineering ever since. I continue to consistently print wherever I am whether that’s at NYU’s Makerspace or at a Fab Lab in Boston.

Nora Toure: Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing?

Karina Popovich: I was standing in front of a 3D-printer, an early version of a Makerbot, I was staring at it, and appreciating just how much it made sense. It was such an intuitive yet powerful and complex idea to stack thin layers of plastic on top of each to create an object with volume. I mentally applauded whoever created the idea.

In that moment, everything seemed to make sense, geometry became beautiful, and the different disciplines of math, science, and physics were seamlessly interweaved to develop a complex machine that appears so simple.

Nora Toure: Can you tell us a bit more about your entrepreneurial project “Proto – Making Tech Accessible”?

Karina Popovich: When I started as the Robotics teacher at an elementary school, I made it my mission to introduce 3D-printing to the students and the school. Throughout the school year, I 3D-printed elements for my students at my school, Brooklyn Technical High School.

For our culminating project, my students and I built a working prosthetic hand that is powered by an Arduino. The prosthetic hand was a huge success! The students always enjoyed seeing the creations that came out of a 3D-printer. Seeing how much my students enjoyed 3D-printing inspired me to create Proto, a progressive web app and mobile app experience that aims to combat unequal STEM opportunities and resources, particularly 3D-printing, on a local level.

Through 3D-printer sharing, we want to connect schools, groups, and facilities with underused 3D-printers to schools, teachers, and students without access to 3D printers. Since Proto is a progressive web app that it is accessible on a phone, computer, and any digital device that would allow people to browse a collection of online-sourced 3D files.

Anyone can easily set their desired settings like size, color preferences, and urgency, and a local facility or 3D-printer owner will print the file for pick-up. In doing so, teachers and people with minimal 3D-printing knowledge can print, learn, and benefit from the maker community all while helping other 3D-printists get the most out of their 3D-printers.

Read the rest at Women in 3D Printing

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