Local Teachers Attend 3D Printer Workshop at Michigan Tech

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School teachers from across Michigan learned to build their own 3D printers at Michigan Tech.

HOUGHTON, MI (08/07/2013)(readMedia)-- Kelly Belew and Kristin Spain, teachers from the Alpena Schools, were at Michigan Technological University recently, learning to build their own 3D printer to take home.

And, since the open-source RepRap 3D printers developed for the workshop can print their own components, teachers and students can use the workshop printer to build another one, and then use the two printers to build two more, and on and on. The possibilities are virtually unlimited.

The teachers were from Alpena, Calumet, Chassell, Clarkston, Dollar Bay, L'Anse, Livonia, Oak Park, Roscommon, Sterling Heights, Stockbridge, and Wakefield. The Calumet High School team was sponsored by General Motors and PACE (Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education). Through PACE, GM is launching an industry/university/high school partnership curriculum, and Calumet was the program's pilot school.

"GM is continuously looking for ways to further develop student's interest in science, technology, engineering and math. This new pilot program with PACE provides a tremendous opportunity in which to accomplish this goal," said John Calabrese, vice president, global vehicle engineering at General Motors. "We are able to train these students on some of our more advanced technologies, such as the 3D printers, so they are prepared once they enter the workforce to jump right in to understanding these applications."

Square One, a Michigan-based nonprofit educational funding organization, sponsored the other 11 teacher teams.

"At the Square One Education Network, we strongly believe that investing in creative and innovative teachers is a top priority for our region and country," said Karl Klimek, executive director. "Providing the gear necessary for the teachers and students to thrive is what we do best. Introducing additive manufacturing technology to teachers who are traditionally STEM teachers is a conversation we believe has a place in today's exciting educational landscape."

Michigan Tech faculty member and researcher Joshua Pearce helped teach the teachers about 3D printing and build their printers. An associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering, Pearce has garnered worldwide attention over recent months for his work developing scientific equipment with open-source computer-aided design software, microcontrollers and 3D RepRap printers, and for sponsoring a "3D Printers for Peace" contest to encourage people to think about ways that 3D printing can be used to benefit humanity.

"In addition to building 3D printers, the teachers developed printable teaching and learning aids for their classrooms. These designs will be printed, tested, and shared with the global community so anyone with access to a 3D printer can make their own or tweak them for the needs of their students", explained Pearce.

"3D printers will enable teachers everywhere to save tons of money and get precisely what they want for their classrooms," said Pearce. "It's spawning a revolution."

The teacher workshop was organized by Michigan Tech's High School Enterprise program, working with GM/PACE and Square One.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM, its subsidiaries and joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.