Godwyn Morris is the Director of two programs in New York City, Dazzling Discoveries, a STEAM education center for grade school age children and Skill Mill NYC a “maker space” facility for adults and teens. Godwyn has been working and creating with educators and children for more than 20 years. She is an advocate making, mixing, trying, testing and playing, all with the aim of teaching creative thinking and problem solving skills to kids and adults. She works with hundreds of students and teachers every year in classes, camps and professional development workshops. Her expertise is helping educators bridge the gap between teaching content and expanding hands on exploration.
Godwyn, could you let us know about your background and your journey to Additive Manufacturing?
I have created and run several different businesses over the years, all of which incorporated the newest technology of the time. From a software company in the late 1980s to 3D printing & laser cutting service business currently, I have always found technology trends fascinating and have been able to build businesses based on them. At this point in my career, I can say that I am a serial entrepreneur. My first business was helping companies and nonprofit organizations publish newsletters. That business led me to consumer software development, which in the late 1980s was a technology in its infancy. I sold that in the 1990s and started a business focused on children, toys and education. That morphed into one of my current businesses, Dazzling Discoveries STEM Education Center, which I started in 2002, and then Skill Mill NYC which we opened in 2016.
What are Dazzling Discoveries and Skill Mill NYC and what are the stories behind them?
In 2002 I created a science and engineering program focused on hands on learning activities for children and named it Dazzling Discoveries. The terms “makerspace”, “makers” and ”STEM” were not part of anyone’s vocabulary at that point, yet that is exactly what I was doing. I was a bit ahead of the trend. I learned about, and started using, consumer friendly 3D printers and Tinkercad software as soon as they became available. Just as I had with all my other ventures, I taught myself by watching and learning from others. I was an early subscriber to Make magazine, talked to experts and bought my first 3D printers in 2014 (Makerbot Replicator 2; I have 3 of them and we are still using them today). At that point I began teaching kids and adults how to use Tinkercad and 3D printing and it is still one of the more popular activities we offer.
Dazzling Discoveries, my STEM program for kids, is a year round day camp and after school program. In 2016 I saw the beginning of a market for digital design, 3D printing and laser cutting services for the general public so I expanded and opened Skill Mill NYC for teens and adults. In addition to all that I recently launched a product line of cardboard and paper engineering kits called Dazzlinks.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us?
We won an Ultimaker 3D printer at Maker Faire a few years ago. The challenge was to design and produce a small 3D printed toy. Ultimaker sold the contestants’ toys at their booth at Maker Faire and the designer of the best selling toy received an Ultimaker printer. We were, and are still thrilled to have won that fabulous printer.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman 3D Printing?
As the owner of my own company, people generally take me seriously. I can not say that I have experienced any overt challenges but it is possible that discrimination has gotten in the way and I don’t know about it.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
That is a simple question to answer. It is so appealing and interesting because the possibilities are so vast. It is empowering to have an idea and then use a few tools (software, 3D printing machine, filament) to easily turn that idea into a physical object. In my world, working with kids and projects, it is so efficient to make a wheel or a gear or a creature or a model whenever we need it. Through our Skill Mill NYC business we have expanded to provide digital design and production for adults from whom we see fascinating prototypes.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
Keep in mind that I work primarily in education and with kids and novice adults. It is so delightful to see the expression on each person’s face when they design and then print their first object. It is a form of technology magic and it makes kids and adults so happy to see the process and physical result of their efforts. We offer Introduction to 3D printing workshops to spread the knowledge. The more people know how 3D printing works, the more likely they will be to think of ways to use it in their lives.
Where do you think the industry will move to in the next 10 years?
I think there will be a lot more businesses like mine; service businesses where people can go to have a part made or an idea rendered. It has been a bit of a slow growth for us because so few people understand what we do. I see more and more makerspaces opening and I am sure that trend will continue.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
Learn how to use 3D modeling software.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
Highlight the fact that It is incredibly creative. It combines art, science, design and has immediate results. As the software becomes easier and easier to use, the barrier to entry will continue to shrink.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
On the east coast there will be the Connecticut Maker Faire April 18-19, the Long Island Maker Faire June 6 and the USA Science Festival in Washington DC in April 23-26.
Favorite 3D tool? Laboratory tape for the 3D printer bed
Favorite moment in your day job? The look on a child’s face when her/his digital creation becomes a physical object.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? Easy to use, inexpensive multi-color printing