YouthQuest Teams Up With Horizons Hampton Roads

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks with 3D ThinkLink students at Horizons Hampton Roads on July 25, 2016

One of the highlights for The YouthQuest Foundation this summer was the success of our 3D ThinkLink pilot project at Horizons Hampton Roads.

YouthQuest provided the equipment, curriculum and training for teachers to introduce at-risk kids to the magic of 3D printing as part of a six-week summer enrichment program at Portsmouth Catholic Regional School.

Jack Lyons talks with 3D ThinkLink student Amadou Abakar at YouthQuest's 10th anniversary celebration
Jack Lyons talks with 3D ThinkLink student Amadou Abakar at YouthQuest’s 10th anniversary celebration

It was the first time we’ve worked with Horizons Hampton Roads, which serves young people in Virginia’s Tidewater region.

We are grateful to FEDAC’s Jack Lyons for connecting us with Horizons. A longtime member of the AOC Solutions family, Jack knew about YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative and met some of our advanced students during the Foundation’s 10th anniversary celebration last October.

When Jack’s sister, Elaine Lyons, became Program Director of Horizons Hampton Roads in December, he recognized the potential for a partnership. He suggested that she talk to YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann.

Within a matter of weeks, they reached an agreement to bring 3D ThinkLink classes to HHR.

The students and staff were excited about the experience.

Classroom aide Breanna Fair, who admitted she wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea during teacher training, had a change of heart soon after classes began.

Classroom aide Breanna Fair, teacher Franklin Baker and intern Eleni Fafoutis with 3D ThinkLink class students at Horizons Hampton Roads July 25, 2016
Breanna Fair, teacher Franklin Baker and intern Eleni Fafoutis with HHR students

“It was priceless,” to see the children’s reactions as they watched 3D printers turn their ideas into reality, she recalled. “You couldn’t ask for better.”

“It keeps them thinking over the summer,” she added. Learning to use Moment of Inspiration 3D design software helped strengthen the students’ math, planning and problem solving skills.

Cassidy Parish, 12, said she learned that it’s OK to make mistakes because you can always change a 3D design to make it better, then print it again. She also enjoyed the hands-on nature of the classes.

“I got to print my own things that I could design and build and use for myself,” explained Cassidy, whose 3D creations included a replica of the Goblet of Fire from Harry Potter and a Star Wars Death Star ID tag for her dog, Leia.

Teacher Franklin Baker gives Cassidy Parish tips for designing a 3D-printed clock at Horizons Hampton Roads on July 25, 2016
Franklin Baker gives Cassidy Parish tips for designing a 3D-printed clock

“If I got the chance, I would like to go help other students learn 3D printing,” Cassidy said.

Eleni Fafoutis, a high school intern who worked with the class, thinks the experience will encourage the kids to consider careers on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

“One student told me he wants to build rovers for NASA,” said Eleni. “I said you can. You’re working with a real CAD (Computer Aided Design) program and those rocket scientists use similar things.”

That aspiring NASA engineer, 12-year-old Corey Wells, said our classes helped him learn to solve problems and be creative.

“I think it was great that they allowed us to do this because many kids don’t get this opportunity and I’m thankful,” he said.

Corey, Cassidy and the other students from our first class at Horizons Hampton Roads entered 7th grade a few weeks ago equipped with new skills and confidence, thanks to YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative.

YouthQuest Backs Character-Building Program for Young Golfers

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presented a check to The First Tee of Aiken Chairman of the Board Tony Allman and USC Aiken Vice Chancellor for Advancement Mary Driscoll on August 22., 2016

The YouthQuest Foundation is part of a unique collaboration that uses golf to benefit young people in the Aiken, South Carolina area.

The Foundation has contributed $5,000 to help build a nine-hole golf practice facility on the University of South Carolina Aiken Campus. It will be the permanent home for The First Tee of Aiken, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth development by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and encourage healthy choices through the game of golf. First Tee puts special emphasis on reaching at-risk youth, low- to moderate-income youth, minorities, girls, students with disabilities and others who might not otherwise be exposed to golf and the life lessons it teaches.

The USC Aiken men’s golf team will also use the practice course.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presented a check to The First Tee of Aiken Chairman of the Board Tony Allman and USC Aiken Vice Chancellor for Advancement Mary Driscoll on August 22.

YouthQuest also serves at-risk youth in the Palmetto State through a partnership with the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Eastover, where high school dropouts get a second chance to fulfill their potential through academic and vocational training. Students selected for YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink training at SCYCA develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, explore their creativity and improve their confidence as they learn the basics of 3D design and printing. After completing the 22-week residential program at SCYCA, many of the 3D ThinkLink students go on to Aiken Technical College for an additional 20 weeks of education in their chosen career fields.

YouthQuest Foundation Honors 2016 Award Winners

Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents YouthQuest's 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award to AOC's Valerie Hightower in August 4

YouthQuest recognized the Foundation’s leading supporters by presenting awards at our annual VIP Reception on August 4.

Volunteer of the Year

Valerie Hightower from AOC Solutions has been an incredible volunteer supporter of YouthQuest ever since our inception 11 years ago. She has been behind the scenes at every event, providing critical services to make sure administrative and fundraising tasks are executed expertly.

Valerie’s dedication to helping America’s at-risk youth is only surpassed by her devotion to her family, including her daughter Sarah, who also serves as a YouthQuest volunteer.

We are truly grateful for Valerie’s continued support of our efforts and proud to honor her as our 2016 Volunteer of the Year.

Community Partner Award

Duncan-Parnell, a company whose services include 3D printing and prototyping, is the recipient of our 2016 Community Partner Award.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents the 2016 Community Partner Award to Duncan-Parnell’s Joe Holmberg on August 4.

During our 3D ThinkLink training, students are exposed to both academic and job opportunities in the 3D field. Duncan-Parnell’s 3D specialists make time in their busy schedules to host Vocational Orientation tours of their facility in Charlotte, North Carolina and speak to our students about job opportunities in 3D maintenance and support. This experience provides the students with invaluable insights into potential career paths and allows them to ask specific questions to help them in their decision-making process.

Duncan-Parnell also provides service and technical support for our Z450 powder-bed 3D printer, a key component of the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab at our Chantilly, Virginia, headquarters.

Joe Holmberg, product specialist in Duncan-Parnell’s 3D division accepted the award from YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann at our reception.

Strategic Partner Award

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents the 2016 Strategic Partner Award to Bos & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington board member John Ruff (left) and Program Director Patrick Leonard on August 4.YouthQuest began its relationship with The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, winner of our 2016 Strategic Partner Award, when we piloted our 3D ThinkLink Initiative at their Culmore Character Club summer camp last year. The project provided key learnings and positioned us to broaden our partnership.

We plan to expand delivery of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative to more of Boys & Girls Club kids, including the integration of 3D ThinkLink into their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Team initiative, providing more advanced application of our training and technology. We also plan to submit joint grant applications and host a joint fundraising event in the spring of 2017.

Lynda Mann presented the Strategic Partner Award to BGCGW board member John Ruff and Program Director Patrick Leonard.

YouthQuest’s VIP Reception was hosted by Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and was sponsored by Visa USA.

New Friends, Familiar Faces Make Golf Tournament a Success

Golfers at YouthQuest;s 11th Annual Challenge at Trump National Golf Club, August 8, 2016

The YouthQuest Foundation’s 11th annual golf tournament was our most successful fundraising event, thanks to our generous sponsors, players and volunteers.

Volunteers Una Murphy and Steve Levenson welcome guests to YouthQuest's Challenge at Trump National Golf Club
Volunteers Una Murphy and Steve Levenson welcome guests

Two dozen teams – more than 100 players – competed on August 8 at The Challenge at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia.

The tournament is a major source of funding for the 3D ThinkLink Initiative and our other programs for America’s at-risk youth. This year, we introduced our supporters to the new Youth Mentor Program, which will give our most motivated and capable 3D ThinkLink students the tools and training they need to share their 3D printing skills – as well as their critical thinking and problem solving skills – with their communities.

Several guests at the tournament and our VIP Reception on August 4 made $500 donations to provide a Youth Mentor with a Tech Pack, which includes a 3D printer, laptop computer, design software and training. CLICK TO CONTRIBUTE

Everyone enjoyed a beautiful summer day on Trump National’s recently renovated Championship Course, which will be the site of the 2017 Senior PGA Championship in May. Three teams tied for first place at 56. Matt Owens from the Jones, Lang, LaSalle team and Milena Savich from CrossFit PR Star won prizes for the longest drives.

Players celebrate a putt at YouthQuest's Challenge at Trump National Golf Club on August 8, 2016
Celebrating a putt

Teams were matched up with celebrity and VIP players. As always, Jerry Olsen and other Washington Redskins alumni were on hand, along with current and former military and law enforcement officers.

We had more tournament sponsors this year than ever before. Visa USA sponsored the VIP Reception for the first time. Hewlett-Packard and One on One Financial Group came aboard as new Bronze Sponsors. Insurance Associates and the Poole Foundation stepped up to Silver Sponsorships. The PHILLIPS Programs, our 3D ThinkLink partner, was a first-time hole sponsor.

We’re also grateful to all our returning sponsors:

Platinum – AOC Solutions
Gold – 3Delta Systems
Silver – FEDAC Processing
Photo Sponsor – RE/MAX Gateway
Hole-in-One Car Sponsor – PNC Bank (C300 4Matic provided by Mercedes-Benz of Chantilly)
Bronze – AC Properties; CrossFit PR Star; Experis Technology Group; Iron Bow; Jones, Lang, LaSalle; Ritzert & Leyton; Valley Forge Acquisition Corporation; Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Brad Denton swings his 10-foot driver during a trick shot demonstration before the Challenge at Trump National Golf Club August 8, 2016
Brad Denton swings his 10-foot driver

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Tysons Corner, Virginia, which hosted the VIP Reception, also sponsored Golf Entertainer Brad Denton’s appearance. Brad provided his always-amazing trick shot demonstration before play started, then collected donations by running several promotions as he circulated around on the course.

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap, who judges our 3D ThinkLink student essay contests, was back again this year at the VIP Reception and Tournament Reception to meet our guests and sign copies of his latest thriller, Friendly Fire.

Linda Ackerman organizes volunteers ar YouthQuest's golf tournament on August 8, 2016
Linda Ackerman organizes volunteers

We couldn’t stage a major event like this every year without the help of our volunteers, many of whom are AOC Solutions employees. Our deepest thanks to Volunteer Coordinator Linda Ackerman, Bill Ackerman, Sabah Anwar, Carl Brown, Edna Davis (our 2015 Volunteer of the Year), Kelly Eisenhart, Nikki Gombos, Tammy Haug, Sarah Hightower, Valerie Hightower (our 2016 Volunteer of the Year), Gary Hoffman, Dick Knapp, Steve Levenson, Una Murphy, Denise Roberts, Tiesha Robertson, Tony Sanderson, Carol Schick, Bryan Self and Erica Stewart.

General Manager Michael MacDonald, Director of Events Ellen Fatigati and the entire Trump National staff always provide excellent service for our tournament guests, so we’ve already made our reservation for next year. The 12th Annual Challenge at Trump National will take place on Monday, August 7, 2017.

Scholarship Winners Want to Use 3D Printing to Help Others

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents scholarships to 3D ThinkLink essay contest winners Trevon Ahl and Alycia Freeman at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGE Academy

The YouthQuest Foundation has awarded scholarships to two South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduates for their essays about how 3D ThinkLink training affected them.

Trevon Ahl and Alycia Freeman, both 17, are among the 16 students who completed the latest cycle of the 3D design and printing course YouthQuest provides at the school for at-risk teens in Eastover, South Carolina.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presented the $500 awards to the essay competition winners during SCYCA’s graduation ceremony on June 8.

Bestselling author John Gilstrap, whose latest novel in the Jonathan Grave thriller series is Friendly Fire, has judged the semi-annual contest since 2014.

“This year’s batch of essays featured two standouts for me, both because they focused not on what the writer got from their introduction to 3D printing, but rather on how they will put their knowledge to work for others,” he said.

3D ThinkLink students from SCYCA attend Vocational Orientation at 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina on April 21, 2016
SCYCA students at 3D Systems for Vocational Orientation

In his essay, Trevon described the excitement he felt the first time he used Moment of Inspiration design software to transform a flat shape into a 3D digital model that he could print.

He also recalled the Vocational Orientation trip his class took to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he saw high-end printers that go far beyond the simple plastic-extrusion machines he learned to use in class. These professional 3D printers make objects from a variety of materials, including rubber, ceramics and metals.

“When I saw that, I was overall enthusiastic about this new wave of how to use machinery in everyday life that will help others in different ways,” Trevon wrote.

“If I had a 3D titanium printer for my personal use I would make bikes for all the children in my neighborhood,” he added “I’ve seen many kids in my community that walk everywhere and they would be grateful for a bike. I would even have them customize their own bicycle frame and then I`d print it out for them.”

Because he loves to fish, Trevon also said he wanted to 3D print a titanium fishing rod and “catch so many fish I would be able to share with the people in my community so we would all be able to enjoy a good fish fry.”

The $500 scholarship will help Trevon achieve his post-ChalleNGe goal of attending a technical college to earn a welding certificate. His fellow winner Alycia plans to study surgical technology at Savannah Technical College.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGE Academy 3D ThinkLink students Hailey Key, Asia Grant and Alycia Freeman examine 3D printed objects during Vocational Orientation at 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina on April 21, 2016
Hailey Key, Asia Grant and Alycia Freeman examine 3D printed objects during Vocational Orientation

“Alycia’s story was quite touching,” John Gilstrap said.

Her dad was doing drugs and her parents divorced when she was 13. She moved five times and skipped school often, spending most days caring for ailing grandmother instead of going to class.

“I then started to follow in my father’s footsteps,” Alycia wrote. “About a year later, I knew I had to be successful. I didn’t want to be a product of my environment.”

That’s when she decided to enroll in SCYCA. Being in the 3D ThinkLink class helped Alycia get re-engaged in education.

Like Trevon, Alycia said the visit to 3D Systems showed her how she can use the technology she learned about in class for the benefit of others. She was inspired to see the many ways 3D printing is used in health care.

Being that I took care of my grandmother, I want to help others live a better life in every way possible,” she explained. “3D printing encouraged me to become a surgical nurse. … I’m now motivated and determined to go to school and get into the medical field and actually complete it!”

CLICK HERE to read the complete essays

2016 Scholarship-Winning 3D ThinkLink Student Essays

These students from the 2016 spring class cycle earned $500 scholarships for these essays about their 3D ThinkLink experience.

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By Trevon Ahl
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy

When I entered into the room with the other cadets for class and was seated we were then shown several hands-on videos that we followed along with our individual laptops. Secondly, we learned how to extrude a 3-dimensional object. Extrude means when you have an object that is flat on the plane (Moment of Inspiration). You can extrude the object and basically make it stand up. Just the sight of seeing a shape that was flat, then it stood up made me feel excited! I didn’t think that was going to happen when I began the lesson.

3D printing is important to me in many ways. If you love dogs like I do you can make multiple items for your dogs, such as dog tags, prosthetic legs, prosthetic tails, prosthetic ears, etc. Also, you can make varieties of telephone cases for the different types of phones that are out there.

When Mr. Johnson and Tom Meeks said to us as a class that ‘’3D printing is about turning 2D objects to 3D objects and printing them to a real life situation that can be useful to many people and/or different industries.’’ When our 3D printing class visited 3D Systems in Rock Hill, S.C. we learned that there are many different types of 3D printers. Some 3D printers print in porcelain, titanium, powder and plastic. Yes, I know what you are thinking: powder? The machine hardens the powder; then when you make your shape or objects it dips your shape into the super glue and become hardened into the shape that you are making.

3D is the new type of manufacturing. They even made a car frame that looked like a Lamborghini. The New Balance shoe company now has a pair of tennis shoes that the soles of them are made with 3D printing technology. When I saw that I was overall enthusiastic about this new wave of how to use machinery in everyday life that will help others in different ways!

If I had a 3D titanium printer for my personal use I would make bikes for all the children in my neighborhood. I’ve seen many kids in my community that walk everywhere and they would be grateful for a bike.  I would even have them customize their own bicycle frame and then I`d print it out for them.

I would love to also make a titanium fishing rod because I love to fish. Once I catch so many fish I would be able to share with the people in my community so we would all be able to enjoy a good fish fry.

_________________________________________

By Alycia Freeman
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy

I’m Cadet Freeman from Beaufort, South Carolina. I grew up on St. Helena Island. My parents got divorced when I was 13 years old because my father was more interested in drugs than he was into having a relationship with my mother.

I got pulled out of school a lot and moved about 5 times. My grades started to plummet and I was told I wouldn’t be able to obtain my high school diploma. This was due to all the days that I had missed.

I began taking care of my grandmother who got sick and she had to have a knee replacement. My grandmother started back walking after surgery but still needed assistance. She passed away a couple months later due to other complications. I was still in school at the time but I only went about twice a week.

I then started to follow in my father’s footsteps. I no longer wanted to be around people. About a year later I knew I had to be successful. I didn’t want to be a product of my environment. I heard about SCYCA through a family member. I asked my mother did she think it was a good way to try and get my G.E.D. Her response was, “Absolutely!” She was very surprised and proud of my decision.

My way of thinking and mindset made a 360 degree turn while attending the program for these five months. I’m now motivated and determined to go to school and get into the medical field and actually complete it!

My favorite part that I thought was most interesting and cool was applying 3D technology to the field that I want to take up at Savannah Tech. I learned many things about 3D printing that I was not aware of. I found it interesting that tests on mice with 3D printed objects showed that there were no signs of cells dying in their tissues. I also learned at 3D Systems people who do additive manufacturing print organs, stem cells, bones and even surgical tools. I feel like every disabled person deserves to enjoy a normal life.

Being that I took care of my grandmother, I want to help others live a better life in every way possible. 3D printing encouraged me to become a surgical nurse. When I become a surgical nurse I will then be able to insert/place replacement bones, organs, etc. in different areas of the human body.

I also want to take my career further so that I can be an additive manufacturer. Not to mention other things I could create such as shoe soles, car parts, skeletal parts, foods, and models with different types and sizes of 3D printers. 3D printing will become even more popular in the future and I would like to advance my experience.

3D ThinkLink Initiative Expands to Reach Teens With Autism

3D ThinkLink students and instructors at PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Virginia, June 10, 2016.

YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink project at the PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Virginia, is off to an impressive start.

Six students have completed our 3D design and printing course as part of the Career and Tech Education program at the school for special-needs children. YouthQuest provided the curriculum, equipment, software and teacher training.

Henry Spiegelblatt runs a 3D printer in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink class at the PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Virginia
Henry Spiegelblatt runs a 3D printer

“We’ve hit on something here that has great potential,” Piper Phillips Caswell, President and CEO of PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families, said during an event honoring the students on June 10.

YouthQuest and PHILLIPS teamed up early this year to launch the first 3D ThinkLink class specifically for high-school-age students with high-spectrum autism. Previously, YouthQuest’s signature STEM education program primarily served at-risk teens enrolled in National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies.

“It was mind-blowing to see something on the computer and then see it printed out on the 3D printer,” said PHILLIPS student Elijah Burton.

“It’s just really fun to design things,” added his classmate, Henry Spiegelblatt.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, who developed the curriculum and trained the teachers, was “blown away” by the results of the pilot program at PHILLIPS.

Luke McHugh, left, and Adam Eldert work on a 3D design in YouthQiest's 3D ThinkLink class at the PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Virginia
Luke McHugh, left, and Adam Eldert work on a 3D design in Moment of Inspiration

“In four years of teaching 3D ThinkLink classes, I don’t think I’ve seen students create designs more complex than what I’ve seen here. I am super impressed,” he said.

“One of the reasons I enjoy coming to 3D printing is that I already have the ideas that I want to put down. I’ve always had these designs that I wanted to implement,” explained Adam Eldert, whose creations included a colorful spaceship. “However, until recently, I lacked the means and the resources to actually make them reality. Now, I possess both.”

Luke McHugh quickly mastered the Moment of Inspiration design software, using it as a tool for creative expression.

“I can exercise my ideas in a virtual environment where I can literally build them and then modify them without having to take the whole thing apart,” said Luke.

Adam Eldert's spaceship design created with Moment of Inspiration software in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink class at the PHILLIPS School in Annandale, Virginia
Adam Eldert’s spaceship design

Knowing how to use a 3D printer and serious CAD (computer-aided design) software such as Moment of Inspiration can be valuable for the students are they prepare to enter the working world. The PHILLIPS program is also designed to teach “soft job skills” such as problem solving.

The goal, as PHILLIPS Program Supervisor Lindsay Harris put it, is “to develop confidence as well as competence.”

With an emphasis on critical thinking, learning from mistakes and step-by-step improvement, our 3D ThinkLink training helps students achieve that goal.

Marcel Baynes, Tom Meeks, Jim Field and Sam Son at YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink teacher training in January, 2016
Marcel Baynes, Tom Meeks, Jim Field and Sam Son at teacher training

“I’ve seen an increase in their resiliency. They’re not afraid to fail,” said Sam Son, lead teacher for the Designing Futures Program at PHILLIPS.  “Whenever they do see the mistakes, they want to go back into the program – Moment of Inspiration – to make sure they find out exactly where it’s wrong and tweak it, because failure is not final and they want that final product to be exactly what they want.”

He described one student who had “always felt left out” because she was constantly being compared to her sister, who’s in gifted and talented classes.

“For her to actually be working with 3D printers and designers that people at the university are working with, it brings out a lot in her and the confidence has skyrocketed recently,” Sam said.

Much of the credit for this pilot project’s success goes to Sam and his fellow PHILLIPS instructors Jim Field and Marcel Baynes, who attended a week of training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in January and spent many more days in and out of class learning to use the 3D printers and software.

________________________________________________

Congratulations to the First 3D ThinkLink Class at the PHILLIPS School

Elijah Burton
Adam Eldert
Ida Kahsay
Luke McHugh
Deja Semper
Henry Spiegelblatt

Students Explore 3D Printing Beyond the Classroom

3D ThinkLink students from DC's Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy visit the University of Maryland's Tissue Engineering Lab during Vocational Orientation in April 2016

Vocational Orientation is an important part of YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink training because it shows students some of the ways they can use the skills they’re learning in class.

In April, 3D ThinkLink students from Maryland’s Freestate, the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academies visited businesses and universities to:

  • Deepen their understanding of 3D printing technology;
  • Learn about career opportunities in related fields;
  • Meet people who use 3D design and printing in their occupations;
  • See teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving in action.

At the Rock Hill, S.C., headquarters of our 3D ThinkLink Strategic Partner, 3D Systems, the South Carolina cadets learned about 3D printing’s explosive growth in areas ranging from medicine, automotive and aerospace engineering to fashion and entertainment. Director of Corporate Communications Tim Miller led a tour showing the full line of 3D Systems products and explaining the special applications for each machine. The students, who have only simple, desktop plastic-extrusion 3D printers in their classrooms, were amazed by the variety of printing methods and materials available.

Duncan-Parnell's Camren Summerlin shows students a 3D-printer
Duncan-Parnell’s Camren Summerlin shows students a 3D printer

The SCYCA students began their Vocational Orientation Day with a visit to a business that uses many 3D Systems products in its work with civil engineering clients, Duncan-Parnell in Charlotte, N.C. The staff showed them some of the latest 3D printers and talked about jobs available for operators who have the skills to produce high-quality 3D models. Applications Engineer Camren Summerlin also encouraged the students to consider repairing and maintaining 3D printers as a career.

The day wrapped up in Columbia with a tour of the University of South Carolina’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Graduate Director Dr. David Rocheleau explained how mechanical engineers “make things and break things” – analyzing the strengths and weakness of materials in research to create better, safer products. In addition to 3D printers, the students saw engineering tools such as a wind tunnel, a century-old milling machine and a huge device that can cut through practically anything using a high-pressure stream of water.

UMD grad student Bao Nguyen explains how this 3D-printed scaffold is used to create a hip bone replacement.
UMD grad student Bao Nguyen explains how this 3D-printed scaffold is used to create a hip bone replacement.

The Maryland and DC students learned about 3D printing’s role in a very different kind of engineering during their visit to the University of Maryland in College Park. They met Laurie Bracaglia, Charlotte Piard, Bao Nguyen and other graduate students in the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab who are developing innovations such as human bone replacements. The researchers use 3D printing to build delicate forms around which bone cells will grow. The cadets took part in hands-on demonstrations of an emerging technology that would have seemed like science fiction not so long ago.

Our students also discovered how 3D printing fits into the invention process when they  toured Prototype Productions, Inc., in Ashburn, VA, another 3D ThinkLink Strategic Partner. Chief Operating Officer Italo Travez and his staff explained that everyone at PPI – designers, engineers and machine operators – share ideas and work together to find innovative solutions to customers’ needs.

During Vocational Orientation for 3D ThinkLink students from Maryland and DC in April 2016, Prototype Productions COO Italo Travez demonstrates products PPI developed
PPI’s Italo Travez demonstrates some of the products his company developed

Mr. Travez, who emigrated from Ecuador with his family when he was a child, also shared personal stories about what drove him to become a mechanical engineer and how he and his brother, Joe, built their small family business into a state-of-the-art prototyping operation that has developed hundreds of products.

There was even a side-order of innovation during a lunch break at Topgolf Loudoun in Ashburn. Director of Sales Cassandra Taylor led a tour of the facility that puts a high-tech spin on the traditional driving range. Players hit golf balls embedded with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips into targets equipped with sensors that read the chips and send the scoring data back to the players. Although most of the cadets had never touched a golf club, they had fun giving Topgolf a try.

The at-risk teens in our 3D ThinkLink classes typically have a narrow view of the world and their place in it. Many have never been to a high-tech workshop or a major university campus. These Vocational Orientation events help open students’ eyes to what’s possible for them as they plan their next steps into adulthood.

YouthQuest Congratulates Loudoun Teens Who ‘Step Up’

The top three teams in the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition, sponsored by YouthQuest, on April 6, 2016

The YouthQuest Foundation has sponsored the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition since 2012 and every year, the projects that students create for the contest become more impressive.

The event challenges middle school and high school students in Loudoun County, Virginia, to develop and implement solutions to problems they’ve identified in their community. Local business and civic leaders judge the projects and award cash prizes for the best ones. YouthQuest provides most of the prize money.

The PASTA team makes its presentation at the final round of judging for the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition on April 6, 2016 at OneLoudoun
The PASTA team

“This was our largest Step Up yet,” said Loudoun Youth President and CEO Jared Melvin, who praised the “powerful, life-changing programs and messages” the students presented.

Fifty-nine teams – more than twice as many as last year – competed in the preliminary round on March 29 at Trailside Middle School in Ashburn.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks was one of three dozen judges who narrowed the field down to 10 teams that advanced to the finals, held at The Club at OneLoudoun on April 6.

PASTA (Peers and Students Taking Action), won the $1,000 grand prize. The student-run group with chapters in seven Loudoun County schools operates volunteer programs and helps students find opportunities to serve the community. PASTA’s recent projects include collecting more than 1,000 pounds of cereal and $400 in donations for a local food bank and raising $8,500 for a camp for children of cancer patients.

Carmine Gothard explains her Breaking Your Silence project during the final round of judging for the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition on April 6, 2016 at OneLoudoun
Carmine Gothard presents her project

The $750 second-place prize went to Briar Woods High School senior Carmine Gothard for a project that stemmed from a traumatic childhood experience. Carmine was sexually assaulted when she was 7 and kept it a secret until two years ago. She created Breaking Your Silence to empower fellow survivors. Her project includes a support website and activities to help kids who’ve been sexually assaulted speak up and begin the process of recovery.

Members of the We’re All Human team, who earned the $500 third prize, were also motivated by bitter personal experience with their chosen issue; suicide, the leading cause of teen deaths in Loudoun County.

The We're All Human team from Woodgrove High School presents their suicide prevention project during the final round of judging for the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition on April 6, 2016 at OneLoudoun
The We’re All Human team

After two of their friends killed themselves in 2014, the Woodgrove High School students started a suicide prevention campaign. Their first annual awareness-raising event took place on April 6, just hours before the final round of Step Up judging. All 1,500 Woodgrove High students joined in a 1.5-mile walk around the school in Purcellville, then watched a student-made documentary that featured classmates talking about their struggles with depression and despair.

The teams that finished in fourth through tenth place each received $250 for projects that addressed issues ranging from bullying to homelessness to child car seat safety.

Over the years, Loudoun Youth Founder and Chairman Emeritus Carol Kost has noticed an increase in the number of projects that deal with bullying, sexual assault and suicide. She says it’s important for the Loudoun’s leaders to recognize that, even in the nation’s wealthiest county, young people face many serious risks.

Not only do the Step Up teams help draw attention to those risks, they set an example for everyone in the county by taking action to solve the problems they see around them. That is why YouthQuest is proud to support the competition as part of our mission to serve at-risk youth.

Click here for a list of all the 2016 Step Up Loudoun Youth winners.

Scholarship Winners Pursue Their College Dreams

3D ThinkLink instructor Charles Johnson awards scholarships to essay competetion winners (l-r) Emilee Bray, Kimora Felton and Kathaleen Polanco at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduation December 9, 2015

Three young women who earned scholarships in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink essay competition are taking the next steps toward their career goals.

Emilee Bray, Kimora Felton and Kathaleen Polanco each won $500 for writing about their experiences in our 3D design and printing classes at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

After graduating from SCYCA in December, Kathaleen started the new year by enrolling in South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College while Emilee and Kimora traveled to Chantilly, Virginia for a week of advanced training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab.

3D ThinkLink student Kathaleen Polanco visits 3D Systems in Rock Hill, SC, for Vocational Orientation October 22, 2015
Kathaleen Polanco at 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina for Vocational Orientation

“Before South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, I was a mess,” Kathaleen confessed.

Her young life took a dramatic turn last April when she was shot while partying with friends. By year’s end, she had completed the 22-week residential program at SCYCA, which included our 3D ThinkLink training.

“I can proudly say I’m clean and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” Kathaleen said. “I honestly finally feel at peace with life.”

In her essay, she described 3D class as “an escape … where I can be in my own little place, a place where I can design any and everything.”

Kathaleen gave credit to our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, for encouraging her to continue her education.

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Emilee Brays designs a ring during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab January 5, 2016
Emilee Bray designs a ring during 3D ThinkLink Immersion Lab Week

“Tom inspired me to be a better me and never give up no matter how hard life gets,” wrote Kathaleen, who is studying computer networking.

Emilee joined Kathaleen at Aiken Tech immediately after the week of immersion training in our lab. She plans to graduate in May with CNA (certified nursing assistant), electrocardiogram and phlebotomy certificates. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.

“3D printing is starting to get popular now, especially in the nursing field,” Emilee explained. “If I were to tell them that I went through this kind of program, there’s no doubt that I would get that job!”

Besides strengthening her resume, the 3D ThinkLink experience taught her how to think through problems and overcome obstacles.

“It’s not just in 3D printing that you learn from your mistakes. It’s in life that you learn from your mistakes,” said Emilee.

Kimora agreed that our classes helped her learn to think in new ways.

SDouth Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Kimora Felton sets up a 3D printer in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab during immersion training week January 5, 2016
Kimora Felton sets up a 3D printer in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab

“Before getting involved with 3D printing, my mind was scattered,” she recalled in her essay. “Trying to relieve anger and finding ways to express myself, I’d do things that made me act out of character, which led me to think I wasn’t worth anything at all.”

Kimora said 3D ThinkLink gave her a new way to express herself and boosted her self-esteem.

Like Emilee, she hopes to use her 3D skills on the job. Kimora, who wants to be a veterinarian, is enrolled in the Veterinary Assistant program at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina.

She was inspired by the video she watched in class about Derby, a dog born with deformed front legs who is able to walk thanks to 3D-printed prosthetic legs.

“Involving 3D printing into this field will give deformed, damaged or diseased animals that are on the verge of being euthanized a second chance,” Kimora wrote in her scholarship-winning essay.

CLICK HERE to read the complete essays

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