Erica Hediger, a young entrepreneur and creative, runs both the CBR Innovation Network’s Makers Space and her own business The Creative Element, a business that engages and educates young students through to adults in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). Erica utilises a wide variety of modern technologies in both of her pursuits, using 3D printers, laser cutters and the like to introduce people to a myriad of potential applications of these technologies. Aside from her primary engagements, Erica also, of all things, builds and battles robots in ‘robo-wars’ competitions.
Ever busy, Erica, in her The Creative Element capacity, hopes to bridge the gap between school student’s lack of practical engagement with cutting edge technologies and an existing focus on theory in classrooms and theory based approaches to technologies. Erica and The Creative Element lead school children through the use of the following technologies and methods: 3D printers, computer assisted drawing (CAD), various software programs, computer game design, robotics, laser cutters, induction moulding and resin and cold casting.
In her capacity running CBRIN’s Makers Space, Erica provides prototyping and design services to the entrepreneurs utilising the CBRIN space, and that of its co-located, partner organisations. Entrepreneurs are able to approach Erica for help, advice and consultancy services in designing and creating prototypes and making improvements upon designs based on the outcome of prototypes, before mass manufacturing products.
One of Erica’s most recent clients, through her CBRIN Makers Space capacity, is Canberra’s youngest entrepreneur, Will Grame, who having found inspiration in personal experience, addressed the concerns raised by the waste generated when using a diabetes testing kit. During HACT’s July 2015 school holidays schedule of programs and events, Will used a 3D printer to develop and produce a device to collect and store used testing strips, receiving support from individual event mentors. Erica has since helped Will to manufacture his device, producing through the use of her 3D printers, a variety of colourful, some even bejewelled, editions of Will’s device.
The value of getting younger generations into the STEM (the STEAM acronym, sans mention of art) or STEAM has been touted recently as both a logical necessity and a future driver of economic growth. Erica’s workshops, products, services, and establishment at CBRIN, help to form a link for participants to not only next generation STEAM technologies and their application, but to Canberra’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.
In encouraging and educating people on modern technologies and their application, Erica runs her own workshops, these can range in size from small to large groups, and many are held in CBRIN’s Makers Space. Erica also holds one on one workshop sessions in the CBRIN Makers Space, most recently taking a father and daughter through a series of lessons and interactive experiments in the use of many exciting technologies. The main goal of Erica’s interactions with the father and daughter team is to lead both of them through the basics of robotics and programming, so that they can achieve their passion project of creating their own autonomous electronic pet.
Some of the most interesting creations participants in Erica’s workshops, mainly school students, can create include scarves with motion sensors and LED lights sown to them, the effect of this being that the scarves flash different colours in line with periphery sounds or the wearer’s movements. Participants in her workshops can also create a myriad of designs using CAD software, which can then be printed using her array of 3D printers, for example augmented animals and additions on existing recognisable designs.
Erica has been working towards having the content of her workshops and programs being based on school curriculums, which would mean teachers and students would receive course credits for having attended her sessions. Erica has found success and progress in amending her workshops and programs to align with school curriculums.
Erica also provides a range of services and products to people looking to source 3D printed materials, objects and products for non-commercial use, such as forward thinking to solutions to household concerns and issues, passion projects and individualised variants of common items and materials.
Erica can be reached through her Creative Element email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through contacting CBRIN.