Crafting community

Naja Quatman

The entire plan hinged on scholarship support.

Naja Quatman had her sights set on moving from Brasília, Brazil, to the United States to pursue a career in materials engineering. She knew choosing a college would come down to financial aid and scholarships, but she also hoped she would be able to find a space where she could combine her interests in art and engineering to tinker and create.

Only one school met the criteria: Case Western Reserve University. 

“CWRU was the only school that offered me enough support to attend university without a ton of loans,” said Quatman, now a third-year undergraduate, “and it was the only place with something like think[box].” 

The 50,000-square-foot makerspace, Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], was a main attraction for Quatman, and she has made good use of it in her time on campus.

Her most recent project employed 3D modeling to construct a cat-themed chess set for kids. It’s just one way she’s expanding her knowledge and skills in the field of materials engineering, as she leaves the door open for career options such as product design and quality control in manufacturing. 

“I like the critical thinking put into materials, and how many ways they can be used,” she said. “Sometimes there’s not a ‘right’ answer and you have to put your mind to work.”

When she’s not in the lab or think[box], Quatman is sharpening her leadership skills as president of the Brazilian Undergraduate Cultural Organization and public relations president of the Case Aeronautics Team.

“You get to work with people who have the same interests and struggles, but also see from different perspectives,” she said. “It’s a community.”