STEM Academy purchases 3-D printers with grantBy Emily Beckett Published 4:45pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) at LeCroy Career Technical Center recently purchased two 3-D printers and materials with a $5,000 grant from Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development.
The grant covered two MakerBot Replicator 2 printer units (about $2,000 each), replacement parts and spools of printable materials.
“This is our first time getting 3-D printers,” STEM instructor Jason Sosa said.
Students can use the printers to produce 3-D items for which they have created digital files on a computer.
In addition to using the printers to make items for robotics competitions, Sosa said students could gain experience with the machines many manufacturing-related companies prefer their employees have prior to entering the workforce.
For example, students recently collaborated with Johnson Controls Inc. in Clanton to produce an ergonomic handle for the company’s assembly line workers with the new 3-D printers, saving Johnson Controls hundreds of dollars.
“They sent us the file, and we were able to print it for them for about $2,” Sosa said. “I feel there will be a lot of jobs for people who can design items that can be manufactured with these machines.”
Jacob Smith and Colby Ramsey, both 10th graders at Chilton County High School, said they have spearheaded the use of the printers.
“We’ve played with stuff and programs that most people haven’t that could give us an edge, going out into the real world,” Smith said.
Cawaco RC&D is a non-profit organization that supports educational and community development projects in Central Alabama, serving Chilton, Blount, Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties.
To view a video showing a time lapse of one of the 3-D printers producing an item, visit The Academy of STEM at LeCroy CTC’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/STEM.LCTC.