Forging new careers

Aaron De Lanty
Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Peck School of the Arts
Hometown: Chilton, Wis.
It’s a fact: He started his own laser-cut jewelry and accessories business, Delandtree.
Emily Mondloch
Degrees: Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Peck School of the Arts; Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, Lubar School of Business
Hometown: Waukesha, Wis.
It’s a fact: Look carefully at her work: “My biggest thing is actually leaving tool marks in the final product. I like to leave evidence of the process,” she says.

Emily Mondloch and Aaron De Lanty didn’t intend to take up metalsmithing. Mondloch entered UWM as a marketing major, and De Lanty started in information technology management.

Then, both found themselves in an Introduction to Jewelry and Metalsmithing class, and they decided to forge a new path.

“That’s what hooked me, being able to manipulate things out of metal, because it’s this foreign, industrial thing that the consumer can’t touch. So I had that ‘aha’ moment: I can make stuff out of this,” says De Lanty, who has crafted everything from an MP3 radio to armbands to monster sculptures.

“Finding metalsmithing – that led to everything,” Mondloch says. “It changed my whole life and outlook. We literally can build anything we want, and that knowledge is incredible.”

Mondloch decided to add metalsmithing as a second major, while De Lanty switched completely. They were even more hooked once Frankie Flood, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Design, created the Digital Craft Research Lab.

“He’s honestly the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Mondloch says. “He will let you turn your idea into reality. Nothing is impossible to him – he wants to try everything.”

That infectious spirit infused a summer internship – funded by UWM’s Office of Undergraduate Research – with a multidisciplinary group of metalsmithing, graphic design and engineering students who worked together in the Digital Craft Research Lab.

UWM’s College of Health Sciences asked the group to design a more effective and attractive device to measure arm spasticity in physical therapy patients. The group created a new device using a stereo knob, inexpensive microprocessor and 3D-printed parts – and for a fraction of the cost of a commercially made product. “It looks really inviting and it actually works,” Mondloch says.

Of course, tackling such challenges wasn’t always a 9-to-5 task. It was not unusual for Mondloch, De Lanty and their classmates to still be in the lab at 3 a.m., puzzling over a design challenge or trying to get something just right. De Lanty recalls one stint in which he stayed inside the Kenilworth building, where the lab is located, for three days straight. Still, he has no regrets.

“Art school taught me to always be a learner,” he says. “And it gave me the confidence to say, ‘I don’t know how to do that, but I’m going to figure it out.’”

And that’s just what he and Mondloch will do when they start their post-graduation internship at Solaris, a local medical textile company. Solaris approached UWM looking for interns to help take its products and manufacturing processes to the next level, and Mondloch’s and De Lanty’s metalsmithing skills and creative problem-solving will be put to work as the company adds a facility that will allow it to create its own prototypes on site.

After the internship, De Lanty is contemplating getting his Ph.D. in Digital Fabrication so he can eventually teach. Meanwhile, Mondloch thinks she might like to stay in research and development at a company like Solaris. She’d love to help people like her cousin, who lost part of his leg and has yet to find a prosthetic that he really likes.

“I’d really like to get into something that honestly makes somebody’s life better every day,” she says. “That would be my dream job.”

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