Shared from the 6/27/2018 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition

High-tech camp

Program gives students chance to learn 3D, computer design


From left, Xavier Chastang, Allyson Shoults and Austin Beauchamp, all 17 years old, present information about their device, the “Sea Scroller,” which is designed to help archaeologists draw underwater. The three are attending the Additive Manufacturing Summer Institute. [ERIC ALBRECHT/DISPATCH]


Instructor Andrew Bruening works to help solve problems with, from left, Avonte Armstead, 14, Amil Singh, 14, and Anthony Haithcock, 17, who were making a presentation about their “Wrist Wrap” product during the high-tech summer camp. [ERIC ALBRECHT/DISPATCH]

A dozen teenagers from across central Ohio walked into camp almost a month ago, knowing little to nothing about computer-aided design or 3D printing.

And yet there they were Tuesday at the PAST Innovation Lab on Kinnear Road on the Northwest Side, sitting at tables with their printed resin prototypes — their fourth, or fifth, or sixth attempt at designing a product to be used by a real-life client with a challenge to overcome.

The Additive Manufacturing Summer Institute is a new high-tech camp this summer for high-schoolers, run jointly by Columbus State Community College and the nonprofit PAST Foundation. It’s designed to create a pathway for teens to earn a degree in this area and maybe a career. The camp, which runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week for a month, is being paid for by a three-year grant for more than $800,000 from the National Science Foundation. Each student earned a full scholarship that paid for their participation.

Additive manufacturing is forming an object by thinly layering material over and over again. It’s 3D printing, essentially, but industry printers are advanced enough these days to print an object made up of several different materials all at once.

According to the grant application, manufacturing makes up about 17 percent of Ohio’s economy. “A recent survey of 100 manufacturers revealed two-thirds of them were already using additive manufacturing and its use is projected to increase,” the document stated.

The benefit of additive manufacturing, the teens said, is that they can make whatever idea they were toying around with. Within hours, it becomes clear whether the physics work in real life. Is it too thin and breakable? Is it bulky and unattractive? Before 3D printing, mocking up a product took a lot of time and money.

One group printed a jar opener with a large handle — the Jopener, they called it — for clients whose arthritis might keep them from gripping small objects. Another group made the Ajustawrite, a brace to hold a pencil or pen on top of an arthritic client’s finger, instead of having to grip the writing instrument.

And yet another made a scrolling tablet that could be used underwater, keeping the writing tool from floating away. Their client is an undersea archaeologist.

On Thursday, the students will take an exam to earn their Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification. It’s a relatively new credential so not everyone has it yet, said Andrew Bruening, director of bridge programs for the PAST Foundation who has been leading the camp. It’s pretty rare that ninth- through 12th-graders will be receiving it, he said.

Next year, Bruening told the teens, he hopes to include certification in computer-aided design, or CAD.

“Having the CAD cert and the Additive Manufacturing cert, you’ll get a job like that,” Bruening said, snapping his fingers.

Another part of the grant goes to professional development for a group of high school teachers, which allows them to learn alongside the teens and take the certification exam. From there, they can start these classes in their high schools.

The students are even getting a bit of presentation experience. Groups were practicing Tuesday for a formal presentation at Columbus State on Friday in front of their clients and other experts, who might be a tough audience.

“I was surprised that you could do something like this, program a design into a computer and transfer all this information into a printer and then print it out,” said Saeed Abdulzahir, 16, who is attending Life Skills High School on the North Side. “It’s basically almost like a fantasy.”

“Yeah, if you can dream it, you can make it,” said Redwan Kamel, 16, who goes to Metro Early College High School, which is across from the PAST Innovation Lab on Kinnear.

Abdulzahir said he is thinking about becoming a zoologist and designing habitats. Kamel is considering becoming a mechanical engineer.

Ian Stroop, 17, who is home-schooled, said he’s unsure what he’ll do with this in the future, but he wanted to pick up the skills just in case.

Was this month worth it? “Definitely,” all three boys around the table said. @shangilchrist

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