Dr. Michaella Janse van Vuuren has excelled in multiple disciplines from her PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in Computer vision and post doctorate in medical implant design at the Central University of Technology to being an internationally renowned 3D print designer, artist and an innovator in education.
She has been involved in 3D printing since 2006 when completed a Post doctorate in Custom Medical Implant design at the CUT. In 2008 she founded Nomili an innovative interdisciplinary research, consulting and 3D printed product development studio. Her Chrysanthemum centrepiece was voted the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at Design Indaba 2009.
In 2012 she was the VISI emerging designer of the year and in 2014 she was named one of the City Press 100 world class South Africans. In 2017 she was honored internationally as one of the 40 Most Influential Women in 3D Printing by All3DP magazine.
Nora Toure: Michaella, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
Michaella Janse Van Vuuren: My youth was spent immersed in fine arts, I experimented with puppetry, video installations, body art and 2D digital design. In my twenties my interests diverted and I found I wanted a deeper understanding of Engineering and technology. I was awarded my PhD in Electrical Engineering in 2004 for developing a software program to automatically detect, track and label human poses and actions in video footage. Although I loved the research, it took many years of study and writing code. I was yearning to find a way to express my artistic talents.
Nora Toure: Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing?
Michaella Janse Van Vuuren: I still remember vividly the first time I came across 3D printing. I was working in South Africa in 2005 as a digital sign language recognition researcher. I saw a picture online of an object being printed, it fascinated and excited me and I knew I had to figure out a way to work with these machines.
In the following year I took up a Post Doctorate fellowship in medical implant design, the only way I could access rapid prototyping at the time in South Africa. I felt I needed a serious technical arsenal to be able to make my own digital fantasies real, what I found instead is that everything you need to learn can be found online.
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