A native of Canada, Cynthia was one of the top Advertising Agency Producers in the country prior to moving to the United States in 1998; winning the prestigious Gold Bessie for Top Commercial of the Year. She produced high profile campaigns for clients such as Air Canada, Molson Breweries, McDonald’s, General Mills, and Colgate-Palmolive. Moving to the Youngstown area in 2003, Cynthia worked as a marketing consultant before establishing Triad Production Group in 2011. Establishing a relationship with America Makes, Cynthia has led a team that has become specialists in communications for the additive manufacturing industry; not only for America Makes but with several leading organizations in the 3D Printing ecosystem. Her oldest son also works in the 3D Printing industry as the Production Manager for rp+m in Cleveland.
Cynthia, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
I am originally from Canada where I had a 15 year career as an Advertising Agency Producer, producing national TV commercials for such clients as Molson Breweries, Air Canada, McDonalds and General Mills. After moving to the US, and spending several years home with my three sons, I began a marketing consulting career that eventually led to opening and managing a video production company in Youngstown Ohio. In 2012, America Makes opened its doors across the street from our office and a few months later, I literally went and knocked on their door to find out exactly what they were doing and how we could help.
Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing?
My first experience with 3D printing was at RAPID 2013 in Pittsburgh. Not knowing anyone or anything, I walked the floor with my video camera, speaking with companies and learning about the different technologies. I then created a short video of the experience and from there, started producing several videos that explained the mission of America Makes and its members. In 2015, as a natural extension to the video relationship, my company was awarded the contract for social media management for America Makes.
You are Women in 3D Printing Youngstown ambassador. What can you tell us about Youngstown’s community and what makes it unique?
Youngstown is an extremely unique community right in the heart of the so called Rust Belt. Having once been the epicenter of the steel industry in the United States, it was at one time the richest community per capita in the entire country. The steel mills closed and for many years, so did the heart of the community. Those that remained stuck together and became highly protective of their rich history and culture. Youngstown is a town of makers and manufacturers – it’s in the DNA. It was a natural place to begin an entirely new industry and now, primarily because of the existence of America Makes, it is the epicenter for the additive manufacturing industry of the United States.
Why did you decide to become a Women in 3D Printing ambassador?
Having lived in the Youngstown area for 15 years I was discouraged that on a national level, it was considered a community that was dying – economically and spiritually. I wanted to show the other side of Youngstown, with a vibrant 3D Printing community full of world-class educators and business professionals who are propelling the additive manufacturing industry to the next level.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
As a communications/social media content specialist, I have learned almost everything there is to know about the additive manufacturing industry – all the technologies, the companies, and people who are advancing the industry. I am extremely proud that I am able to speak the “additive manufacturing” language for my clients. I feel in my own unique way, I am telling the story of 3D Printing to the entire world through social media.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us?
In 2013, my son was a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Toledo and was required to complete 3 co-op internships in order to graduate. I suggested he consider this “new” 3Dprinting industry that was starting up in Youngstown. As luck would have it, America Makes was in the process of hiring their first batch of interns, and my son snagged one of the positions. He went on to complete two semesters at America Makes, and two with Stratasys. Upon graduation, he was hired by rp+m in Cleveland as an R&D Engineer and is now their Production Manager. We talk “shop” all the time and have been known to clear the room at family gatherings. He recently told me he gets to share me as the Mom for the entire additive manufacturing industry as so many of the young professionals know me and look up to me. (I also get plenty of hugs at 3DP events & conferences). For this, I’ve decided to adopt the hashtag #AdditiveMom!
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman entrepreneur in 3D Printing?
Honestly, I had much more trouble being a woman in advertising in the 1990’s!! (think Mad Men). I would say that the 3D Printing industry provides equal opportunity for all because it is still such a young industry and everyone is finding a place where they belong. There is opportunity for everyone – I’ve created an entirely new career for myself because of it and I am forever thankful for this opportunity.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
I’m VERY EXCITED to announce that I have accepted an offer from The Barnes Group Advisors to start a new service – TBGA Communications. Companies in the additive industry sometimes have trouble telling their own story, especially start-ups or companies that are expanding into the industry. TBGA Comms is an extension of the TBGA mission to “Industrialize Additive Manufacturing” by helping companies find their voice in the market. The beauty of TBGA is that we are completely technology agnostic – we can “speak the language” of all 7 of the additive technologies. I’m excited to be part of this amazing team!
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
Raising 3 athletic sons, all of whom played high school football, I think the recent partnership between Carbon and Riddell to produce impact shields inside helmets was an “it’s about time” moment.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
I’m really excited by the growth of 3D Printing in the sand casting industry. I produced a video several years ago to introduce the American Foundry Society to this new technology and today 3D Printing sand molds and cores is embraced by foundries around the world because of the reduction of tooling and lead times. It is production ready technology now!
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:
- As a business person?
The 3D Printing industry has created an entirely new career for me in this second half of my life! I was fortunate to enter as it was just becoming mainstream and now I see myself continuing to grow and expand my skills as the industry continues to grow!
- As a woman?
I was never a student of math and science at school and frankly, STEM education was never something that was pushed to my generation of women. However, I was always someone who loved to problem solve and learn how things are made. This industry has given me the opportunity to fulfill my inner geek, and even without the education, I can talk shop with the best of them!
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
When I started, there was still so much hype surrounding the industry but all I ever saw was samples of 3D Printed chess pieces and toys. Today, there are so many samples of real, practical applications and yet we are still not telling that story effectively. Companies are still hyping their latest release but they are not showing the parts produced by these technologies. I think we need to do a better job of show and tell.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
This is not a man’s industry. It is a people industry. It’s not down and dirty manufacturing. It is creative and inspiring. All you need is imagination and drive and you can be part of it! I have met so many women in this industry who are really smart and really creative – you can most certainly use both sides of your brain!
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? I find the vat polymerization process visually mesmerizing. I’m a Carbon groupie!
Favorite moment in your day job? When the mainstream media picks up one of my social media posts about the industry.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? That parts are commercialized for in every one of the 7 technologies of additive manufacturing.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview? Amy Elliott from Oak Ridge National Labs. Her Twitter handle is @AmytheEngineer and she is heavily focused on promoting STEM careers for young girls.