At the heart of Pickup’s inspiration was a LilyPad Arduino, a microcontroller board used in class that can create electronic fashion when sewn to fabric using conductive thread. She recognized the LilyPad as more than a means to a fashionable ending. Pickup saw it as a perfect opportunity to get young women interested in programming, coding, circuits and, ultimately, in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers via fashion.
After teaching 20 fourth- and-fifth-grade girls how to use the LilyPad Arduino alongside her Emerging Media and Communications’ colleagues at the Design Your World Conference in Arlington this summer, Pickup was ready to take her passion to the next level. Following the conference, she founded Etiquette Creative, a community of engineers, technologists, artists, and media experts working to “empower girls with the ability to make an informed choice about their future by exposing them to new technologies that interest them.”
Tapping their personal and professional contacts, as well as those from the Design Your World Conference and UT Dallas, the women of Etiquette Creative spent their summer planning a three-day camp that would encourage girls to explore opportunities in both fashion and STEM fields.
Twenty-four girls from the ages of 10 to 14 registered for the camp, half of whom were sponsored through Etiquette Creative’s partnerships with local engineering companies. Hosted at Oil & Cotton, a public art studio in the Bishop Arts district of Dallas, the camp introduced the group to LilyPad Arduino and allowed each girl to create her own electronic fashion project under the careful instruction of arts and technology professionals. The girls also benefitted from the expertise of UT Dallas students like Julie Strickland, a current mechanical engineering graduate student and senior mechanical engineer at Raytheon.
“Through Etiquette Creative, we have established an amazing community of women in technology, media, and fashion,” Pickup said. “I hope to build upon the camp’s curriculum and make it an annual event where young girls can learn to love technology like I do.”