As a younger engineer, I am incredibly passionate about helping develop an interest in STEM among young people. Over the past couple of years, I have been working with Bill Macy, Founder of Rippl3d – a company focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, and Brian Federal, Producer of the documentary 3D Printing Revolution, to incorporate 3D printing and other disruptive technologies into the Boy Scouts of America.

United Innovators STEM Summit

In April, I had the opportunity to bring this personal passion into my role at GSC, by volunteering at the United Innovators STEM Summit held at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The community innovation project event was organized by United Innovators, a group of eight talented high school students seeking to encourage young people of color and women to pursue STEM careers and provide them with resources they can use to learn about STEM. United Innovators is an initiative of the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program.

When Leslie Arciniega, a member of United Innovators, reached out to me for help run the 3D printed events with my friend Bobby Zylstra (former co-founder at 3D Printer Experience), I jumped at the chance. Bobby and I met at IMTS 2016, where we helped Rippl3d at a STEM booth that had over 2,000 student visitors. Bobby and I have been working STEM events together ever since.

Designed for middle and high school students, the United Innovators STEM Summit included several interactive workshops from assembling a 3D printed prosthetic hand to design thinking and coding. I spent my time helping run the 3D printed rocket challenge for which GSC donated most of the 3D printed rocket parts.

David Johnson, GSC Business Manager - 3D printing, participates in the Rippl3d Rocket Challenge.

The challenge, developed by Rippl3d, encourages players to create their own 3D printed air-powered rockets. There are two challenge options depending on a student’s skill level. The normal challenge gives students the option of selecting from one of four pre-printed tail configurations, while the advanced challenge allows students to design their own tail configuration and 3D print the part on-site.

Rippl3d Rocket Challenge Launch 

Students must then launch their completed designs, adjusting their launch pressure and angle, into a target to see who earns the most points based on proximity to the bullseye. The overall goal of the challenge is to encourage students to experiment with different designs and variables to find the best ratio.

Rippl3d Rocket Challenge Target

Importance of Supporting STEM Education & Events

These types of events are extremely important in engaging students in the possibilities of STEM careers and help them understand the capabilities of 3D printing. As a rapidly growing industry, it’s a challenge to create a curriculum that wouldn’t be outdated by the time it reaches students. These interactive workshops give students hands-on experience that helps them understand how 3D printing impacts their lives every day, as well as open their minds to the career possibilities they may not have considered.

At GSC, we’re passionate about fueling your current and future success. That’s why we’re committed to supporting future engineers through our education outreach programs such as Camp 3D! and Teach 3D!, and involvement in local and regional STEM events.

For more information, about 3D printing into boy scouts visit my personal website