Bridging the Gap between Industry and Academia

Bridging the Gap between Industry and Academia

One of the main reasons of getting a degree is to acquire the skills that will make you hireable at graduation.

Last month, close to 40 academics and some of the leading industry players came together for an exclusive event to discuss 3D, apparel, and technology. The goal of the one-day event was to bring industry players and academics together in order to ensure what the schools are teaching is in-line with what the industry is using.

The educational roundtable was organized by Optitex and held at the Under Armour Headquarters in Baltimore, MD, and included 2D and 3D training sessions, presentations from Under Armour and Target, and more.

Check out some of of the highlights below:

As brands are adopting innovative technology more into their workflow, they are seeking to acquire the best talent, with the right skills and knowledge, to join their teams. One of the biggest discussions of the day was on how schools can incorporate teaching 2D and 3D technology into their curriculum so the students are learning the same technologies that parallel those used in the apparel industry.

During the event, attendees participated in 2D and 3D training sessions using the software and technologies used by companies such as Under Armour and Target.

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Professors and graduate students learning during a 2D and 3D training session.

Many were familiar with the technologies used, but learned new features and tools to help with their own research and design projects. Academia often has more time to work on in-depth research that companies do not have the time or capacity to focus on. As such, they can work with students to build curriculums and research projects that deal with real-life industry issues, all while learning the necessary technology skills needed to be employed.

After the in-depth training sessions and lunch, the group reconvened for a tour of the Lighthouse, Under Armour’s 35,000-square-foot hub for process and innovation. This is where the brand is advancing the creation of product with cutting-edge machinery, advanced manufacturing testing, and prototype development. Following the tour, the group returned for presentations by Under Armour, Target, and W.L. Gore.

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Tour of the Under Armour Lighthouse, a hub where new product and process technology is developed.

Under Armour began by sharing how they started using 3D to replace physical samples ahead of a FW15 women’s sales meeting. By going digital, they were able to produce hundreds of digital samples and reduce product development time by half. They also discussed additional benefits of 3D for the company, and where they see the future heading. In addition, spokespeople from Under Armour’s internship program discussed the company culture, the importance of working with students, and how to get into the program. One of the main qualifications they look for in interns is knowledge of CAD systems, which is why it is important to work with schools to integrate teaching these technologies more into the curriculum.  

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Under Armour showcases how they use 2D and 3D CAD technology for prototyping, fit and faster decision making.

Target representatives then spoke on the benefits of incorporating 3D and how they use the technology for prototyping, product presentation and packaging. For them, some of their key gains included reducing cut samples by 65%, being more sustainable, making smarter design decisions to ensure a more accurate final sample, and removing 10 days from their development pipeline to get to market faster. In addition, they spoke about the need to bring retail, industry and academia together to produce the right tools, talent and develop the best products.

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Target discusses the importance to bridge the gap between academia and industry. 3D has the potential to transform the fashion industry, but if there is no one to facilitate and push the skills needed within academia, nothing will happen.

The final presentation came from W.L. Gore, a material science company who are best known for high-performance outerwear, waterproof, windproof, and breathable GORE-TEX. They talked about how they depend on CAD technology to save time and communicate more efficiently with external partners. In addition, designing digitally means they are able to be closer to their goal on the first prototype and have more time to work on additional projects and ideas.

By far, the biggest takeaway from the event was seeing what 3D technology software can do to propel the industry in a more streamlined and sustainable direction and ensure students can benefit from learning those skills used.

For academia and industry, it’s not just about preparing students to excel, but to collaborate and develop best practices to close the gap between the two. This can be discussing future innovation and creativity, and building new ideas to engage and teach students that would benefit the industry.

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Mark Faber

Mark Faber

VP Global Customer Success at Optitex
Mark is a highly versatile business and software executive with over 15 years of international experience in driving operational efficiency and business growth in both software and apparel/textile industries. Mark holds a BA and MSc from the London School of Economics & Political Science.