RJG and Newton's Road, in cooperation with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, will donate up to three MakerBot 3D printers to local schools at all grade levels. Dubbed the 3D Printer Project, the group hopes to generate interest and awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education opportunities for educators and students. “3D printers engage students with STEM education,” said Mike Groleau of RJG. RJG noticed this potential after hiring high school interns from Manufacturing Technology Academy, or MTA, who brought with them strong skills in solid modeling. MTA uses 3D printers as a significant part of its curriculum, as they allow students to design, produce, and test parts in school projects, such as robotics projects.
“When students design their own parts, they learn more than just science, math and computer skills,” says Michael George of TBAISD. “They have to turn an abstract idea into a real part.” George uses a 3D printer in his classroom, where students must create initial prototypes, get feedback from potential users, and modify their designs. “We’re teaching kids how to think critically, and be entrepreneurial. Students can design a part and then make it available globally for sale all in the same day. It looks like we are at the beginning of the next design and industrial revolution as 3D printers expand into every market sector. Today we can print cars, human body replacement parts, buildings, and even food. It is amazing.”