Northwestern's First Session of the Year is a Success

by: Val Apolinario

I could feel the excitement in the air as the girls were brought in by their parents. Some were first-timers who had no idea what to expect, and others waited expectantly for us to begin.

The myriad of orange, yellow, and red leaves right outside the library had encouraged us to choose an Autumn theme. We asked the girls about their favorite parts of Fall and their answers still bring a smile to my face: hot chocolate, snuggling up in their blankets, and of course, all the candy they would receive from Halloween.

After an eventful brainstorming session, the MakerGirl team led the girls over to the computers, where they would build their creations using TinkerCad. I was partnered up with Lily, who wanted to 3D print an apple.

Although we only had a few shapes we could work with, Lily and the others girls took this in stride. A squiggly line became a cat’s tail, a circle became a key chain ring, and a sphere and a cylinder stacked together became an apple. As an engineer, I’ve learned that sometimes you have to work within constraints, and it was amazing to see how easy it was for them to do it.

The room became abuzz with whirring machines beginning the girls’ creations. Each of them watched as the data was transferred from their laptops to the printers. The machine configured and began to create their designs. Lily pulled up a chair next to the machine to watch, transfixed by the movements of the pink filament.

I believe that the sooner we introduce the magic of science into children’s lives, the sooner they can begin to explore the world and ask more questions. There should be no limit to the imagination. 3D printing can be used to create the girls’ wonderful designs, hip and shoulder implants, car parts, really, anything we can think of. For young girls especially, being exposed to this can be the beginning of a lifelong fascination with science. With constant encouragement and curiosity, they can dream of doing anything and becoming anyone they want to be. I am a MakerGirl because I want to encourage girls to be smart and creative, because I know they are. I want them to know that science and technology is an option for them, that it’s a vibrant field that helps shape the world we live in.

At the end of the session, each of the girls went home with their designs, along with a few leaf tracings and bookmarks they had made while their creations had printed. There were cats, hot chocolate mugs, and dogs that hadn’t existed before the session that exist now in the world. I am incredibly proud of these girls and their limitless creativity. I know that this is just the beginning of many more amazing sessions.

Our 2018 Bonding Trip to Chicago

by: Rachel Berg

The first weekend of October was our annual team bonding trip in Chicago. I have been on the UIUC team for the past two years and this year was the most engaging trip we have had to date. From the co-founders and CEO, to the UIUC team and newly established Northwestern academy, we had over 20 MakerGirl leaders join us. A few alumni and board of adviser members were even able to join us Friday evening too. It was eye-opening to see how far we have come and have all of the amazing people who have contributed to MakerGirl so far all in one shared space together.

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Friday evening started off with dinner at City Winery. This was something that was added to the agenda this year and one of my personal favorite highlights. Everyone was able to truly get to know each other and talk about all of the recent successes of MakerGirl. From the Board of Advisors to the Northwestern directors, everyone met someone new. I had the chance to get to know the Northwestern directors more and talk about the ideas they have for the sessions they run. The new UIUC team members, met our co-founders Julia and Lizzy for the first time. Julia and Lizzy bring so much drive and inspire each and every one of us to be go-getters for the future. The energy I felt at dinner was indescribable. And of course, we ate some delicious food!

Afterwards, we had to get dessert so we headed off to Bombobar for gelato, doughnuts, and coffee… yum!


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On Saturday, 8 of us went to The Escape Game. We tried our hand at the Special Ops mission and broke out with only a couple minutes left! Everyone’s different perspectives helped us solve the different puzzles together. After all of the critical thinking, we refueled at SweetGreen.

The last thing on the agenda was attending the Women in Innovation event held by SoGal Chicago in the Build312 entrepreneurial space. We networked with the speakers Michael Donnelly (founder of FWD Collective), Ashley Moy (CEO of Cast21), and Kristen Sonday (Co-Founder of Paladin). The speakers talked about what it’s truly like being an entrepreneur- both the successes and struggles. I was inspired listening to how their companies and organizations grew and how they were able to overcome challenges. I have a renewed drive for my life after this event. These women work fearlessly for a cause they are passionate about and that is what I strive to do.

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As for me, I will be graduating this upcoming May. Although this was my last team bonding trip as a student, I know I will continue to help with MakerGirl however I can and definitely go to next year’s team bonding events to meet MakerGirl’s future team leaders.

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Expands Midwest Presence for Greater Impact on Young Girls

CHICAGO - MakerGirl, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through 3D printing sessions, has appointed Stephanie Hein as their first CEO, effective September 4, 2018.

Hein’s responsibilities will include overseeing the expansion of new Maker Girl Academies, ensuring both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Northwestern University Academies are sustainable and supported. In addition, she will coordinate fundraising efforts with a goal to impact 10,000 girls by 2023, including half from underrepresented and rural communities.

“Stephanie is the ideal person to help expand our programing and locations so MakerGirl can have a greater impact on the lives of young girls.” said Julia Haried, co-founder. “She has a deep understanding of what is needed for the next generation of tech-minded girls to join the competitive ranks of men in STEM careers. In the future, 3D printing has an estimated market opportunity of $170B1. We are confident MakerGirl will continue to thrive under her leadership and that she will work tirelessly to have every girl in the country be a MakerGirl.”

Hein served as MakerGirl’s Engagement Director in 2016 and assisted raising over $30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign and organized #MakerGirlGoesMobile, a 10,000 mile cross-country road trip that brought 3D printing sessions to over 1,000 girls in rural and underserved communities across the country.

“Since launching MakerGirl, we have expanded to offer special coding and robotics classes at Northwestern University. DePaul University soon will offer sessions as well as universities in the Midwest and beyond,” said co-founder, Elizabeth Engele. “We can’t wait to see where Stephanie’s passion for education and STEM will take us.”

“After experiencing the first MakerGirl session in 2015, I immediately wanted to be a part of the MakerGirl team and help further such an important mission,” said Hein, MakerGirl chief executive officer. “Growing up I was always interested in STEM but never had the chance to participate in anything like MakerGirl, which is why I am passionate about giving young girls the chance to explore STEM fields through 3D printing. I couldn’t be more excited to be back at MakerGirl driving change alongside the wonderful teams of students we have at our UIUC and Northwestern Academies.”

Hein is a graduate of Educational Studies Master’s program at the University of Michigan as well as a former student-athlete and Molecular Biology major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her interests include informal learning environments, science, communication, STEM education, and women in STEM. She gained educational programming experience at her former position at Toyology Toys. She was a store leader of Toyology Toys in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Hein ran educational programming efforts at local schools and was responsible for creating toy-based educational programs, finalizing program sales and facilitating events.

For more about MakerGirl visit our website at or email

About MakerGirl

MakerGirl is a nonprofit that inspires girls live and dream as unstoppable forces that say “Yes” to the challenges of the future which leads to gender equality in all workplaces. MakerGirl does this through 3D printing sessions for girls ages 7-10. Currently MakerGirl is headquartered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has recently expanded to Northwestern University. Since being founded in 2014, MakerGirl has reached over 3,000 girls across the country. All of the sessions teach girls to be creative and analytical through 3D printing and other cutting edge technologies. Girls practice design thinking while designing and printing an object, and they learn about women leaders in STEM and innovative companies.

Over the past two summers, MakerGirl has gone mobile to reach over 1,500 girls in 18 different states. The MakerGirl Goes Mobile program has raised over $45,000. MakerGirl separates itself from other organizations doing the similar work by focusing on 3D printing. There are a lot of different STEM programs for young girls to promote the same mission we have. A lot of these programs focus only on coding. We have not found too many organizations that focus mainly on 3D printing. We chose 3D printing because it allowed participants to leave with a tangible object they can take home to remind them of all the lessons they learned and that they can make anything.

1Wohlers Report 2012, Wohlers Associates, May 15, 2012, pg. 131

How my North Star led me to MakerGirl

by: Kim Quiroga

When I was younger, my dad once told me in Spanish,“If I had had the opportunities that you and your sisters have, I would be on the moon right now.”

My dad immigrated to the United States at the young age of 17, and has been working long days and nights to support our family since he stepped foot onto American soil. At the start of my college career, I promised myself that I would make the most of my college experience and leave my mark on campus, to validate all of my parents’ sacrifices and make sure they were worth all the hardship and pain. I want to reach the moon, not just for me, but for my family.

Junior year, my quest for a new adventure led me to MakerGirl, a nonprofit developed to encourage young girls to pursue an interest in STEM through 3D printing sessions. This was uncharted territory for me. I did not have a STEM background, and in all honesty the thought of something as simple as 3D printing was pretty terrifying for me.


Prior to attending college, I was not exposed to coding, 3D printing, or what the concept of robotics really was. Jumping head first into MakerGirl introduced me to a different world, and possibilities in fields that I never would have thought were an option for me.

The number of women in STEM careers is appallingly low. But the number of women in these fields that come from underrepresented, low-income backgrounds is almost nonexistent. This is the community that I come from. Minority women comprise fewer than 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers (NSF, Women, Minorities, and People with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2015).


Freshman year I was told that if I truly wanted to grow and make an impact, I had to become comfortable with the concept of being uncomfortable. Knowing that I not only had my future in my hands, but also my family’s future, the thought of enduring this discomfort and still potentially failing was terrifying. Despite the fear of the unknown, being the oldest of three girls made me feel  that I owed it to my younger sisters and my community to mark my presence in the STEM community and open doors for them. There is something so amazing about seeing someone that looks like you, talks like you, and that comes from where you come from, doing something that you never thought was possible for you. I want young girls to see me and think to themselves, “If she can do it, I can do it too.”

Throughout my time at MakerGirl, I have spearheaded the use and expansion of its social media platforms and marketing campaigns. Having the chance to directly impact this nonprofit has enabled me to embrace the unknown and strive to be the best I can be. I am working toward a mission that is bigger than myself, which is incredible. 

At each MakerGirl session, I am able to touch the lives of bright young stars, whose faces light up once they see their print come to life. I have also had the chance to attend sessions in communities similar to mine, and reach young girls who remind me of an eight-year-old version of myself. MakerGirl has enabled me to learn how to embrace the beauty of the struggle, and to be fearless when pursuing my dreams. When I look at each of those girls, who remind me so much of me, I remember what my dad used to say about being on the moon, and I am reminded of another, more famous, saying: “Shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

How Shaping Young Lives Shaped Me

by: Caitlyn Deegan

My name is Caitlyn Deegan and I have had countless positions and roles in MakerGirl.  I have dedicated the last four years to growing the company and for fighting for something I deeply believe in.  This past May, I graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor of science in Materials Science and Engineering and with a minor in business.  I am currently working as a Manufacturing Excellence coordinator for one of the largest spirits companies in the world, Diageo, in a three year management program.  People always ask me how my job connects to my degree and why I chose to pursue a program like this after studying materials engineering for four years.  MakerGirl, the company, the experience, and the people are what brought me to where I am today and I could not be more appreciative to have been a part of this amazing organization for so long.  


I started working for MakerGirl as a freshman in college when I heard about the startup through a friend, and that they were searching for passionate women in STEM fields to help send a message to young girls.  I immediately jumped in and the co-founders Julia Haried and Elizabeth Engele did not hesitate to throw me in.  The summer after that year I was running the UIUC section of the company through the iVenture Accelerator on campus.  Working for MakerGirl that summer truly changed my life forever.  I learned how to run a startup and was introduced to many different business aspects like finances and marketing that I was never exposed to in my engineering classes.  After pitching the company all summer and hiring my own team I realized I was passionate about this for so many other reasons and wanted to learn more.  That is when I decided to get a minor in business, to learn as much as I could before graduation.  


The following years I worked on MakerGirl’s curriculum, team management, fundraising, and much more.  For me, throughout the entire experience my favorite part was always leading a session with the young makergirls and seeing their excitement as they learned.  I loved inspiring them and teaching them about STEM and my experience in the field. Their faces lighting up and realizing that they can do anything they put their minds to was so surreal for me.  It was so fulfilling to see my ideas in the company coming through in the sessions and having the girls enjoy it so much.


When it came time for me to choose my next path in a career I based a lot of my choices off of what I learned through my experience with MakerGirl.  I had been a manager/director for the company for three years and I knew I ultimately wanted to do something similar in my career. This led me to start applications for various management programs and landed me my position for Diageo.  I am learning an incredible amount about a great company and I am sure this was the right decision for my future. I constantly think about how I wouldn’t have gotten here without MakerGirl. This company made me fearless and hardworking.  It gave me passion and taught me to go get what I wanted with confidence. MakerGirl made me who I am today and I am so thankful for the company and the wonderful women that are a part of it that pushed me to where I am now. I may have shaped the lives of many young girls during my time here but the company, the team, and the MakerGirls around the country are truly what shaped me.   

Girl Scouts Learn to 3D Print with MakerGirl

by: Olivia Cole

Back in April, MakerGirl had the pleasure of hosting a session at the Saint Andrew Parish in Chicago for Girl Scouts. This was a really fun opportunity for us to work with Girl Scouts and introduce our newer Northwestern University team to the world of MakerGirl!


The Girl Scouts were able to learn the basics about TinkerCad and how 3D printing works, while the Northwestern team was able to learn the basics about teaching during a session. It was a learning opportunity for all!


Just like our sessions on campus, we started this session with introductions and an quick explanation of what 3D printing is and how it can be applied to multiple careers. After introductions, the girls started to design their spring-themed prints, which were then printed in pink, blue, or yellow filament.


The girls left with their newly printed designs (some had theirs mailed after the session, since there were so many girls), and everyone left with a new love for STEM and 3D printing. This session was definitely a success, and makes me excited for the future of MakerGirl with our Northwestern team!

If you want your Girl Scout troop to host a MakerGirl session, email us at to learn more!


by: Mary Hadley

MakerGirl is proud to now be a featured nonprofit that is a part of the CLOZTALK community. CLOZTALK is an apparel company whose mission is to help nonprofits build brands and promote causes through their clothing.

“We created CLOZTALK to help awesome causes grow their brands! It is always free for nonprofits and our designers take the logo of an awesome nonprofit, like MakerGirl, and create their webstore for apparel,” Jonny Imerman, Co-Founder of CLOZTALK said. “In repping the MakerGirl logo, people begin to see and recognize the brand and, wearers are encouraged to articulate the mission and purpose to others.”

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CLOZTALK sells 13 types of apparel. Their idea is to have people feel good while repping the causes and wear them as much as they can. They also strive to spark a conversation about nonprofits and different causes through their CLOZTALK truck. By talking face to face with people they can let more people hear about their Cause Partners.

We are so excited to team up with this amazing company because we usually only have apparel for our team members and now have this is a great opportunity for people to be able to buy MakerGirl shirts, hats hoodies and more! CLOZTALK donates 20% of the proceeds back to the causes, so by buying their apparel it will also help MakerGirl. We want to help them reach their goal of seeing a world with everyone wearing cause-based clothing. MakerGirl loves to start a  conversation about how to change the gender gap that exists in STEM jobs and we love that CLOZTALK is committed to continuing conversations about great causes.

“We also created CLOZTALK to make it cool to wear charity apparels and feel good volunteering for a charity by simply rocking its logo to a Cubs game, walking on Michigan Avenue or at the gym,” Imerman said. “Over time, charity brands will grow. We learned this lesson from experimenting at Imerman Angels for years and realized that ‘rockin’ the T’ of a charity logo in a busy city center like Chicago was the driver that got our brand out. Wear because you care and go MakerGirl!”

Be sure to check out our CLOZTALK apparel on and rep MakerGirl wherever you go. Share the link with anyone who wants to support driving change for young girls.


Washington DC: USA Science & Engineering Festival

by Olivia Cole

This year, MakerGirl was able to attend the 5th annual USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington DC from April 6-8. Nishi and I flew there to represent MakerGirl and teach festival-goers of all ages about the basics of 3D printing.

We had printers running at the Deloitte booth, which had a few other stations ran by their employees. There was coloring, a station to learn about coding, and other fun activities. There even was a pancake printer one of the days! Some of the volunteers worked at our station too, so they were able to learn a bit about 3D printing as well. It was great meeting the Deloitte volunteers and learning about what some of them do for a living.

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Even though I came to the festival to teach about 3D printing, there was a lot I could learn too! With over 3000 booths at the convention center, there was plenty of cool STEM related activities for kids, and sometimes adults, to participate in. There were booths that taught about health and medicine, robotics, sustainability, earth sciences, and so many other topics. There were even other booths that had different 3D printers than the Ultimakers that we were using, so those were interesting to see too.

This event was huge, so it attracted hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. At our booth, we were able to meet hundreds of kids and their parents and introduce them to MakerGirl. It was great to see how curious people of all ages were about 3D printing. We had a lot of conversations about how the machines work, the process of designing, real life applications, and the future of 3D printing.

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I loved hearing about what kids already knew about 3D printing. Some of them already knew a lot about it, while others had never even seen a 3D printer before. It was interesting how many kids were already comfortable with 3D printers because their schools have them. This really shows how 3D printing will become more and more common for people to use in the future, not just companies. This also makes me hope that MakerGirl will be able to reach out to more schools without 3D printers, so they can learn about them by using them too.

While this event was mainly for us to teach about 3D printing, it was also the perfect place to introduce MakerGirl to a lot of people from the Washington DC area. We are working on another MakerGirl Goes Mobile trip this summer, this time on the east coast. We met a lot of people that would be interested in seeing MakerGirl in their towns, so I’m hopeful that MakerGirl will reach a lot of them over the summer.

Overall, this experience has made me more confident in my knowledge of 3D printing and excited for the future of MakerGirl. With our recent expansion to other schools in Illinois, I can see us starting academies on the east coast in the future too. A huge thanks to Ultimaker for providing us printers to use, and to Deloitte for letting us be a part of this amazing event. I hope MakerGirl will be able to attend this festival another year. It was so much fun!

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MakerGirl at the STEaM Summit

by Olivia Cole

On March 10, I had the pleasure of representing MakerGirl at the STEaM Summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Nishi and Lizzy.

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We had a breakaway session teaching girls (and their parents) about the basics of using TinkerCad and 3D printing, but there were presentations and booths set up on all kinds of STEAM related topics. Luckily, we arrived early so we were able to explore what the summit had to offer.

There were booths on so many different topics ranging from human anatomy to virtual reality! It was fun being able to learn a little bit at each booth, but much more rewarding to see how excited girls of all ages were to learn.

At our breakout session, we had to present in front of around 70 girls and their parents. This was a really nerve wracking moment for me, but you can tell that everyone was interested in what we had to say. My favorite part of our presentation was when we brought up rows of girls and they were able to see the printer up close. This gave them more of a chance to ask questions that they were maybe too shy to ask before, and it gave me more of a chance to talk to the girls personally.

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This is always my favorite part of any presentation or session with MakerGirl. We’re able to connect with young girls, and help them realize how STEAM could be applied to their interests. Plus they get to learn a bit about 3D printing in the process!

The STEaM Summit in Milwaukee was such a great event to attend. It was amazing to see everyone leave it more confident and excited about STEAM. Hearing from the talented women on the lunch panel, and seeing all the women running really cool booths and breakout sessions was enough to inspire anyone any age. I can only imagine what kind of impact this event had on the young girls, because I know I left inspired.


Thank you to the Milwaukee Business Journal for hosting us!

Facebook: @MKEBizJournal

Twitter: @MKEBizJournal

Instagram: @milwaukeebusinessjournal


3 Reflections for a (very belated) 3rd Birthday Celebration!

by Elizabeth Engele

MakerGirl’s 3rd birthday was celebrated in November of 2014, and it has been one of the
greatest joys to see the organization take on a mind of its own without mine and my co-founder
Julia Haried’s day-to- day, on-campus involvement. I firmly believe that the most significant college and life-learning experiences can happen outside of the “classroom” or “office,” and I wanted to share a few ways MG has helped me since graduating so that more students will consider entrepreneurial ventures in college:

  • Mentoring – One of my greatest joys has been watching team members go from learning a role to fully taking ownership of not only their role, but taking responsibility for the entire organization’s output. I have fortunately been able to witness this on multiple levels. For example, @Lauren Wenig was our first hire to the MG team, and she went from not having experience with crafting a marketing plan to incorporating a full re-brand thanks to the help of @Arnold Worldwide. As well, I’ve seen @Nishi Gupta transform throughout the year she has been involved with MG. She came to UIUC as a reserved MBA student from India. Through team bonding and contributing as CMO of MG, she now feels she can call the UIUC campus “home,” and MG team members have told me that she has “stepped up her game” and helped lead the team to feeling more like a family.


  • Giving back and staying updated on my alma mater – Whenever I am connected with current UIUC students, it’s exciting to hear them say, “Oh you’re that girl that helped start MakerGirl?!,” but it’s just as fun and humbling to discuss all of the significant goals my team has accomplished since I left UIUC (including driving a #MakerGirlGoesMobile truck across the country to inspire thousands of girls and expanding to Chicago). Working on MG since graduating has enabled me to continue to give back to a place that inspired me so much while celebrate “small wins” and reflect on what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed since my university days. (Not to mention, it’s a good excuse to travel back to campus and have a cup of @Espresso Royale and a burrito from @Cracked!)


  • Understanding how to take a step back – One of the biggest challenges for my involvement with MG has been figuring out where I can best assist the team and use my time wisely while balancing a full-time work load and being physically away from the team. Admittedly, it was difficult in the beginning to muster up the energy to work on MG outside of work because it just felt like another time-consuming project, but I’ve learned that I’m motivated by the energy from my team, and I’ve tried to find ways to get this energy while being physically away. A few of these ways include planning a Chicago bonding trip every Fall where they visit my workplace and planning weekly chats with a new member of the team to learn how MG has helped them and what they’ve learned. Moreover, I am confident that this knowledge of understanding where I can most effectively and efficiently help “move the needle” will be helpful in the future when I have even more responsibilities to balance. As well, the detail-oriented side of me has learned so much about the value of being able to look at work from a high level and be humble enough to admit to areas where I can’t contribute.

I’m understanding more and more the value of seeing myself as “always in beta;” therefore, I welcome and am thankful for all perspectives and feedback on these topics from people who are there and who have been there. Thank you to all of those that have helped this blog post come to life, including @Ross Gordon and @Nishi Gupta. I am most grateful to my team for all that you’ve taught me about working with passion, resilience, and execution! I can’t wait to witness and play a part in what the next three years have in store for MakerGirl—including academies all over the mid-west! Let’s drive change!