• Kristen Henry is the 24-year-old chief technology officer of 3D printed home company Sq4d.
  • She graduated from Yale University in 2021, got a job at Sq4d, and earned a quick promotion.
  • She said being enthusiastic and getting her hands dirty helped her get ahead.

Kristen Henry is one of the youngest people in the world to 3D print a house.

Less than a year after she graduated from college, and became a mechanical engineer, she operated a printer that built a two-bedroom cement home on Long Island. The task took 80 hours and was completed within weeks. 

After seeing how Henry threw herself into operating — and refining — the printer for Sq4d, the company promoted her to chief technology officer. She was 22. 

Now, at 24, she spends her days modifying and improving the 3D printer so that builders everywhere can use it to construct homes at a faster and more affordable rate, taking pressure off an undersupplied housing market throughout the country, she told Insider. 

“The technology really has to be simple enough to be understandable, but also reliable and complex enough to handle all the challenges you see on a construction site,” she said.

Born to be an engineer

Henry has had an engineer’s mind since she was a child growing up in Cornwall, New York, a town of 12,600 located in the Hudson Valley, about an hour north of New York City. 

She was the middle child in a family of three girls and her parents were both school teachers. 

“I was always the one who helped my dad out with the manual labor, tinkering around with tools in the shop and everything,” Henry said.

As a child she kept a running list of things she wanted to make better, from umbrellas to refrigerators. Once, she built a snow shovel that took some of the weight out of scooping for her mother, who has a bad back.

Henry with her friends at a Yale football game.

Henry with her friends at a Yale football game.

Courtesy of Kristin Henry

So after Henry graduated high school, she enrolled in Yale University as a biomedical engineering major and started on a pre-med track. 

Falling for 3D printing

In her second semester, Henry found her calling in a 3D printing class called See It, Change It, Make It. 

When the class was asked to make a model of Yale’s campus, most of the students in the intro course printed rectangles and the occasional triangle for a roof, but Henry obsessed over the details. 

a 3D print of Yale's campus

A 3D print of Yale’s campus that Henry made in her first 3D printing class.

Kristen Henry

“I pulled data for overviews of details over campus,” she said. “I was printing sidewalks and bicycles — I really loved it and I went all in.” She switched her major to mechanical engineering and never looked back. 

Henry went on to design a small-scale concrete 3D printer with a colleague for her senior year design project. 

“We wanted to really lean into the new trend of 3D printed housing as a means of natural disaster relief,” she said. Compared with traditional building methods, “3D printed houses are fireproof and waterproof and much stronger.”

‘Don’t be afraid to jump in’

Henry said that young people looking to make a difference through engineering, science, and technology should put themselves out there academically and professionally — even when they feel uncomfortable or underqualified. 

Kristen Henry with her senior project

Kristen Henry with her senior project — a 3D printer.

Courtesy of Kristen Henry

“There’s always people that come from fancy schools with different backgrounds,” she said. “My main piece of advice would be don’t be afraid to jump in.” 

When Henry first got to Yale, many of her classmates had already taken advanced classes at private schools, but she said she was able to catch up by throwing herself into the work. 

“Many of my classmates had already learned calculus,” she said. “They already knew this, that, and the other thing, but I learned you can teach yourself a lot of stuff from being enthusiastic and getting your hands dirty.” 

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