Image of Zoe Laughlin taken using Kodak Portra 400 35mm filmImage Credit: Joe McGorty

With just over a week left for this year’s Create the Trophy competition and the announcement rapidly coming up in February, hear from the newest member of the judging panel, Zoe Laughlin, about her background and her thoughts on engineering and design.

Zoe is an artist, maker, presenter, and materials expert exploring the engineering, science, design, and craft of ‘stuff’.She earned a PhD in Material Science in the Department of Engineering at King’s College London in 2010 and is the co-founder and Director of the Institute of Making at University College London.

How would you explain your job?

Getting up to stuff and finding the best way to say yes to things.

What does ‘engineering’ mean to you?

It’s a way of thinking; of problem solving and problem creating!

Growing up, what was your dream job?

Pudding Designer.

What do you think the biggest misconception is about engineering?

“Engineering is not about fixing things, it’s about creating things” is the most frustrating misconception I’ve come across. It was said by an engineering representative from a university to a group of A-level students. Of course engineering is about fixing things and creating things. What’s wrong with fixing things? Fixing things is glorious! He justified himself by saying “if you want fix cars, go be a mechanic. If you want to design cars, come be an engineer” – both statements utterly vomit inducing, misguided and frankly narrow-minded.

If you could have designed any engineering masterpiece from history, what do you wish you could call your own?

The paperclip.

What is the relationship, to you, between engineering and design?

Engineering is a type of design.

How has the advent of 3D printing affected design?

It has done a number of things, as many new tools do. It has definitely opened up new possibilities for designers and allowed the construction of previously-impossible structures, but it can also make us lazy.


 

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