By J. Michael Quante, Science Editor, AATCC
Lab Work is the First Step…
We textile sci-tech folks are a strange lot, seemingly hiding out in our labs. Many of us work in insular environments that foster creativity through logic, experimentation, analysis, and collegial networking. This is great for the work itself, but does nothing to convince industry and the public that your textile innovation has value. If no one outside your lab knows about your revolutionary energy harvesting e-textile, who in industry will take notice (and maybe even help fund the work)? No wonder there are so many misconceptions about the roles science play in our daily lives!
Much of the fault for this lies within scientific institutions themselves. Scientists say “just let the facts speak for themselves,” but forget that their fact “voice” is largely unheard outside of a very small, confining box. To break free of this, more science practitioners are becoming “evangelists”—speaking out in industry forums and online—letting everyone know how science contributes to the betterment of human life, our economy, and the environment we all share.
…Rediscover Your Bliss…
Textile professional evangelists are making their work known to millions thanks to blogging and social media. Here are two examples. Textile scientists, like Dr. Roger Barker at NC State’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center (TPACC), alert industry and the public to the latest developments in protective textiles for firefighters through blogging and their website. TPACC’s research results informs the fire-resistant garment industry and this industry, in turn, provides their textile materials for testing at TPACC.
Sustainability innovations in textile manufacturing, garment use/care, and end-of-life issues are also getting extensive media coverage. One example is The Sustainable Angle Blog, from the creators of the Future Fabrics Expo. Blogs like this can grow into a collaborative incubator for testing new ideas with interested industry partners.
What textile science/technology are you passionate about? What is the story behind your work? Was serendipity involved along the way? Why is your work so important to you and other textile professionals?
…NOW become a Blogger
Now that you’re excited and ready to go, how can you get the word out on what you do? Becoming a blogger is a popular and effective way of doing this. For example, you can share your personal experiences of life as a textile technologist or scientist in an AATCC Blog post. True stories, musings, and yes, humor are all welcome here as part of your textile sci-tech journey.
What if you’re still a bit hesitant about stepping out into that larger world? You are not alone here. There are resources available to guide and encourage. One is the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, which “empowers scientists and health professionals to communicate complex topics in clear, vivid, and engaging ways; leading to improved understanding…” Specifically, the Alda-Kavli Learning Center offers articles, webinars, online courses, and a place where you can even practice and hone your writing skills.
Well, what are you waiting for? An exciting new world of engagement waits awaits you. Let me know when you’re ready to take that first step.
Opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily those of AATCC.