A trip to Sweden made Ariana Rodriguez realize she didn’t need to be a scientist to become a textile engineer.
A senior studying Fashion Design with a minor in Textiles, Ariana used her 2016 Sis Grenald International Travel Fellowship from Moore to go to the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Borås last summer.
“It’s a really prestigious school in the textile industry,” she said. “Researchers come in and do research from around the country in textiles. I thought it would be a great school to just figure out if I want to pursue a master’s degree in textile engineering.”
As it happened, when Ariana visited, the school was on summer break, but a generous teacher gave her a tour.
“We went through all the laboratories and I learned there were so many different companies that will hire fashion designers,” she said. “I thought I specifically needed a science degree, but they actually said they look for designers because that’s how you collaborate with scientists and become more innovative.”
Ariana met with a designer who created a helmet that inflates when the wearer crashes into something.
“I got to see the background of that, how he made it,” she said. “It was just a really well-rounded community, and designers are seen as being part of the science team, which I thought was really neat.”
The Swedish School of Textiles has a facility called Smart Textiles, which Ariana found incredibly interesting.
“It’s like a library of textiles that are given to the school from different countries,” she said. “The textiles are recyclable. Some are just solely waterproof. A dress I saw was made out of 100 percent recycled paper and recycled water bottles. It was just unimaginable things.”
Ariana was interested in design from when she was very young.
“I think all my life I wanted to just make things,” she said. She wasn’t sure what field she wanted to go into until 6th grade, when a classmate was drawing fashion designs.
“I thought, ‘OK, I’ll try drawing designs, too,’” she said. “I just kept following fashion. I loved how crazy it was. In my school, all I heard was people going to be doctors and accountants, and I wasn’t interested in that. But I knew that I wanted to make materials.”
Ariana attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles for fashion design for two years, interning for Adolfo Sanchez and doing public relations for LA Fashion Week. But then she came back east to go to Moore for four years.
“I can definitely say that Moore taught me how to be a designer, not just in fashion, but all-around designer,” she said. “I really appreciate that.”
Ariana is focusing on her senior collection, which includes hand-painted garments, laser-cut fabrics, and 3D printed materials combining many areas of design.
“I learned how to use the 3D printer my spring semester of my senior year,” she said. She also learned how to digitally print patterns.
“The technology courses at Moore were essential for me to learn how to advance my design skills in apparel,” she said.
Ariana would like to be involved in making biomedical or military textiles.
“I feel like I want to use textiles to advance the industry and help others, and I think that would be the way to go,” she said.
It appears the first steps toward that future are set – Ariana was accepted into the master of science program for textile engineering at Philadelphia University, and starts classes this fall.