From ideas to execution
After finishing an undergraduate degree in Science, majoring in Health, at USQ, Steph went on to pursue higher learning with an Honours degree in vaccine development. Among many of her research projects, she focused on creating 3D printable, biodegradable scaffolds for implantation.
'I got really interested in 3D printing when I was living at college. I ended up building my own 3D printer from scratch. After graduating, I showed my work to a professor at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), who immediately said, ‘You’re on the team’ – no explanation required.'
She was engaged in regenerative medicines at QUT to work on real medical 3D printing projects. Not long after, however, she realised this career choice had its shortcomings.
'It was a pretty fantastic experience but unfortunately I was not able to find any work in that space for a long time. I ended up getting involved with the Brisbane Hackerspace, which is like a big anarchy version of what we have here. So when I heard that my old university was getting a little library Makerspace, I made sure to take a trip up from Brisbane to Toowoomba.'
The USQ Makerspace is a community space for hands-on making with new digital fabrication technologies and traditional crafts. It’s often used for classes projects, clubs, personal projects and hardware prototyping. Steph has transformed the Makerspace into a community hub that welcomes student participation and creative ideas. She’s been the Community Engagement Coordinator at the USQ Makerspace for over three years now. She’s in charge of managing the space and running regular educational workshops for the students. She says everyone, regardless of their study area, can come in to participate in various projects – from working with electronics, 3D printing, 3D scanning or to use the soldering station (a unit supplying power)
'I absolutely adore this job. I have a lot of freedom, which I didn’t expect; to be creative and hands on with the projects feels surreal. I am given a lot of trust and am encouraged to move forward with creating exciting projects. My knowledge is recognised and respected here.'
Transforming the future
Steph is a strong advocate for our Library Makerspace, and frequently receives positive feedback about the 3D technology.
'We often have students and staff members coming in who have never seen a 3D printer before. When I put on a print for them, I watch their eyes light up in awe. That is absolutely magical. I once had an older lady watch the machine print an entire design for two hours!'
She says working with new technologies is the driving force behind her career goals.
'It’s about approaching the cutting edge of some exciting technology that will inspire people to realise what is possible. Too often, people tell me, ‘It’s too hard, I won’t get it. I feel silly.’ They don’t challenge themselves to get in there and make something cool. I hope to shift that mindset through my work.'
Steph says that in the future, she’d love to bolster the hub’s entrepreneurial focus even further to continue to help students kick-start their dream careers.
Thank you Steph, for the hard work, passion and energy you bring to the USQ Makerspace.