The founder of The Creative Element, Erica Hediger was named as the Canberra Women in Business 2019 Young Business Woman of the Year. The Creative Element provides educational outreach as well as rapid prototyping and light manufacturing and, despite not having a background in robotics, engineering or design, Erica has created a successful business which recently celebrated five years of operation. She started dabbling in electronics and programming while sick and housebound for an extended period of time and found it was something she enjoyed. Erica has built combat robots and even appeared on American TV show, Battlebots, in 2016. Erica says she is constantly learning through watching YouTube channels and reading textbooks. For those interested in pursuing science and technology, she says there are plenty of avenues available. “A lot of people stop because they think it sounds too hard but if you haven’t tried, you don’t know if it’s out of your reach.”
Erica says 3D printing was one of the first skills she learned and now she gets “to make some cool things”. “Anything I can draw or sketch I can print as a real object now.”
MINERALS & COMPOUNDS
Erica says she goes through phases of learning about new areas of interest. While studying chemistry – powders, reagents and compounds, she realised she could make her own, such as stepped crystals. She displays these, and other scientific oddities, after being inspired by her partner’s parents’ ‘cabinet of curiosity’.
“It (robotics) always seemed like something I’d never be able to do. I was not good at maths … but I realised it’s actually incredibly easy; you just have to have an interest and the right people around you. People know me because of robotics but it’s literally having a day job of playing with toys.”
“I love it because it is a thing that makes my life a lot easier working with metal and it comes from my family; a supportive reminder my family likes what I’m doing.”
Sir Neo Darkmeow is an elder gentleman Erica adopted about six months ago and is the company supervisor when she is working from home. “We are a bunch of busy people who get absorbed in work easily. It’s nice to have something that just hangs around with us.”