Academic journal article Human Ecology

Fashion Smarts

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Fashion Smarts

Article excerpt

Inside the Human Ecology Building, 33 middle school girls use cloth, plastic, and tape to build umbrellas for a world where pond slime, grasshoppers, and meteorites fall from the sky. This challenge began a weeklong summer course, "Smart Clothing, Smart Girls: Engineering Through Apparel Design," to excite teens about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

The umbrella lesson, says program leader Susan Ashdown, MA '89, the Helen G. Canoyer Professor in Fiber Science & Apparel Design, demonstrates that "there is a process to solving a design problem, and it is the same whether you are designing an umbrella, a car, or an outfit. For the entire week, the girls explored this process."

Cornell researchers led modules about mobility, electric circuitry for wearable technology, spatial perception in apparel design, and impact protection and insulation, reaching teens from 4-H programs in Livingston, Ontario, and Wyoming counties, and the Syracuse chapter of Girls Inc.

Each day was packed with hands-on activities. The girls created patterns, then sewed skirts on industrial machines and adorned them with LED lights. They experienced a virtual fitting, taking 3-D body scans and importing them into CAD software to digitally drape and manipulate patterns on their avatars. …

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