The YouthQuest Foundation Year in Review: 2017

Advanced 3D ThinkLink students in training at YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab June 2017

One of the many highlights of 2017 for our foundation was being nominated as Public Service Innovator of the Year by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce for our 3D ThinkLink Initiative in March. The months that followed were filled with examples of our program’s value in building better lives for at-risk youth.

“Our innovation is not that we introduce kids to 3D design and printing, it’s how we use this technology as a vehicle to teach the important life skills at-risk youth lack, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and the confidence to fail,” said YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. “3D printing is perfectly suited for showing kids who’ve failed in school that mistakes are part of the learning process – that they are the beginning of something good, not the end of something bad.”

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks at the foundation's display at the Greater Washington Innovation Awards Showcase in March 2017
Greater Washington Innovation Awards Showcase in March

Being a Greater Washington Innovation Awards nominee gave us the opportunity to tell regional leaders about YouthQuest’s life-changing work with young people like Aunya’ Jones, a top student in our 3D ThinkLink class at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

“Before 3D printing, I did not believe in myself, and I had accepted the opinion that I was not good enough,” Aunya’ wrote in an essay that earned her a $500 YouthQuest scholarship to continue her education.

“3D printing has helped guide me into making better decisions and gave me a new life skill along the way. It has really helped me understand my self-worth because now I know I can design my own future,” she explained. “I now see the bigger picture to my life’s problems and I’m not afraid to face them.”

We also awarded scholarships this year to essay contest winners Asia Baker-Stevenson from Freestate and LaMarcus Corley from the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

In his essay, LaMarcus described how the 3D ThinkLink experience changed his way of thinking. He said it helped him control his anger and improve his concentration.

“When I come to class, my whole mood changes,” LaMarcus wrote. “I become happy because I know that I’m in a good place.”

LaMarcus also said our class brought out the creativity he used to keep “all bottled in” and taught him how to “think about stuff differently.”

A YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENT

Aunya’ and LaMarcus are also two of the ChalleNGe Cadets who took part advanced training this year in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab at our headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.  

reestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadets Stephen Brown and David Kelly in Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadets Stephen Brown and David Kelley in advanced training in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in June 2017
Advanced Training in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in June

The June lab sessions focused on our project to train 3D ThinkLink graduates as Youth Mentors, giving them the skills and equipment to teach others about 3D printing and serve as positive role models in their communities. LaMarcus was there along with fellow Capital Guardian Cadet Adrian Vasquez, and David Kelly and Stephen Brown from Freestate.

Adrian told us during lab week that he used to have problems in school and our class helped get him back on track.

“I would get good grades, but my mind would always be on something else. So I got caught up with stuff I wasn’t supposed to be around. But ever since I started 3D, my mind has been nowhere near that stuff,” he said. “It’s like therapy, a type of therapy. Working on 3D designs keeps me focused, not on the other nonsense stuff.”

In December, we tried something different by taking our advanced training out of our lab and into the classroom at Camp Schwartz on the Capital Guardian campus. Cadets Keyonte Alston, Quadaija Hudgens and Alexander Price honed their design and printing skills during three days of training. A couple of weeks later, they graduated from Capital Guardian along with four other Cadets who completed our 3D ThinkLink class; Divine Carr, Markus Kemp, Keith Pettiford, and Herman Signou.

Throughout 2017, we repeatedly saw proof that what works for the teens in ChalleNGe academies also works for at-risk kids in other kinds of programs we serve.

PHILLIPS School students and teachers visit YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in April, 2017
PHILLIPS students and teachers explore the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab

The PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families has seen great success tailoring our curriculum for students on the autism spectrum. PHILLIPS was so pleased with the results of last year’s 3D ThinkLink pilot project at its Annandale, Virginia, school that it expanded the class to its Fairfax campus this year. Some of the students from last year’s class are now involved in a 3D printing club at the Annandale campus, too. It was a pleasure to have PHILLIPS students visit our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab in April.

It’s also been gratifying to watch the growth of our partnership with Horizons Hampton Roads, an academic, cultural, and recreational program for kids from low-income families in Virginia’s Tidewater area. We started with last year’s Summer Enrichment Program, providing a 3D ThinkLink class for sixth-graders at a single site in Portsmouth. This summer, the project expanded to sites in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, reaching a total of 32 kids. The students were “engaged and challenged” by our curriculum, according to the annual report from Horizons Hampton Roads, and teachers were excited to try some new projects they’d developed that used 3D design and printing to support STEM lessons, such as creating a paddlewheel for a ferryboat.

“The 3D printing was a great experience,” HHR teacher Franklin Baker reported. “From the design portion to troubleshooting, our students had to problem-solve from the first step to the last.”   

Highly skilled, enthusiastic teachers are the key to our program’s success. That’s why our teacher training sessions are so important. Teachers from several partner programs came to our lab for a week in February and October this year to learn about curriculum changes, software updates, and new printers and materials.

“We want to give them the best tools and motivate them to learn how to use those tools so they can be the best teachers for the at-risk students we serve,” explained YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks.

A YEAR OF GIVING

Giving back to the community is one of YouthQuest’s core values.

One of the ways our organization gives back locally is by sponsoring the annual Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition. This was the sixth straight year we’ve provided the prize money for the contest, which challenges teens in Loudoun County, Virginia, to identify problems in their community and implement solutions.

Top 10 teams in the 2017 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition
Top 10 teams in the 2017 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

Kriti Ganotra from Broad Run High School earned the $1,000 top prize this year for developing a free device that detects computer network vulnerabilities.

“I want to bring it to Loudoun County, using high schoolers to create a community where everyone is educated about cyber-bullying, cyber-security, cyber-threats and technology,” Kriti said in an interview with Loudoun Youth. “I want to bring this to every single house and eventually patent this into something that we can develop all around the nation.”

YouthQuest supporters also gave back generously this year to make our 12th annual golf tournament a success. Even though it rained for the first time in the history of our signature fundraising event, more than 100 players and volunteers turned out at Trump National Golf Club on August 7.

We were especially pleased to welcome Insperity, Pure Storage and ePlus as new sponsors this year.

For the first time, the winning team received 3D-printed trophies that were designed and produced in our lab by Tom Meeks.

YouthQuest Co-Founder Allen Cage putts in the rain at the golf tournament August 7, 2017.
YouthQuest Co-Founder Allen Cage putts at the golf tournament in August

The tournament’s Silent Auction raised more money than ever and we collected an additional $2,500 through a new fundraising tool, the Giving Tree. The tree displayed at the post-tournament reception and the August 3 VIP Reception hosted by Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Tysons was decorated with tags that were 3D printed in our lab. Each tag gave donors an easy way to provide equipment, supplies and other resources for our 3D ThinkLink students.

Also at the reception, we presented our 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award to Tammy Haug, National Sales Manager for AOC Solutions. Not only does Tammy volunteer at the golf tournament every year, she assisted us with our 10th Anniversary Celebration in Chantilly and the 3D printing workshops we conducted at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim, California, in 2015.

Our 2017 Community Partner Award went to Copy General in Sterling, Virginia, whose constant support for YouthQuest includes printing the program for the golf tournament every year. IMADE3D won the Strategic Partner Award. We’ve worked with IMADE3D since 2015 and are big fans of their JellyBox 3D printer kit. We have several of the printers in our lab and our advanced students always enjoy building and using them.  

Volunteers at the golf tournament in August
Volunteers in the clubhouse at the golf tournament in August

Our donors also gave generously on November 28, when we participated for the second year in #GivingTuesday, a global celebration of philanthropy. We also became part of AmazonSmile this year, giving Amazon users the ability to select YouthQuest as their charity. For every purchase they make, the AmazonSmile Foundation makes a donation to us.

2018 promises to be another year filled with innovations and expansion for us. We’re eager to start the next round of teacher training in February, as that will be a major step toward reactivating our 3D ThinkLink program at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, which has been on hiatus for a year. In previous years, SCYCA has been our largest 3D class site.

We are also working toward opening the 3D ThinkLInk Creativity Lab for use by the general public and we’re planning a new fundraiser that we expect will be quite lucrative for us as well as for one lucky raffle winner. Stay tuned for details in the new year.

There’s no need to wait to help us, though. We welcome contributions at any time of the year. Please click here or contact Operations Manager Juan Louro at juan.louro@youthquestfoundation.org or 703-234-4633.

Happy New Year to all our friends!

THE YEAR IN PICTURES

Vocational Orientation Shows Students 3D Printing in Action

3D ThinkLink students from Freestate and Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academies visit The Foundery in Baltimore for Vocational Orientation on October 24, 2017

It’s always exciting to take our 3D ThinkLink students beyond their classrooms and show them some of the many ways they can use the CAD (computer-aided design) and 3D printing skills they’re learning.

In October, for the first time, Vocational Orientation for Cadets from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy included a visit to Terrapin Works, the University of Maryland’s 3D printing center.  

A 3D ThinkLink student from DC's Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy examines 3D-printed objects at the University of Maryland's MakerBot Innovation Center in College Park as part of his Vocational Orientation experience on October 24, 2017.
A Capital Guardian Cadet looks at 3D-printed objects at the University of Maryland’s Terrapin Works

Terrapin Works encompasses a collection of digital design and production resources located throughout the College Park campus. The equipment ranges from consumer-grade 3D printers like the ones our students use in class to highly sophisticated, specialized systems that can print objects using all sorts of materials such as plastics, metal, ceramics and even living cells.

The University of Maryland tour included a stop at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering’s Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, where 3D printing helps scientists develop materials that can be implanted in the body. The lab has hosted Vocational Orientation events for us since 2014 and our students are always fascinated to learn how researchers combine life sciences and engineering to create things like bone and blood vessel replacements.

After a busy morning in College Park, the Cadets headed north to Baltimore to spend the afternoon at The Foundery, an industrial makerspace that’s another favorite Vocational Orientation destination.

3D ThinkLink students from Freestate and Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academies watch a machine cut plates of steel using a high-pressure water jet during a tour of The Foundery in Baltimore as part of their Vocational Orientation experience on October 24, 2017.
Cadets watch a computer-controlled machine cut steel with a high-pressure water jet at The Foundery

At The Foundery, our students see how their knowledge of CAD software gives them opportunities to work in traditional subtractive manufacturing fields as well as the new realm of additive manufacturing. Whether they’re working with a desktop 3D printer, a laser engraver or a giant industrial cutting machine, it all comes down to giving a computer-controlled device the instructions needed to make the object you want.

Even more important for our students than learning about the various machines they saw during Vocational Orientation was meeting the people who use those machines to turn ideas into reality. It was gratifying to watch the personal interaction between the Cadets and the staff members at UMD and The Foundery.

These tours are intended to open the eyes of at-risk teens whose view of career opportunities is often quite limited. By exposing them to new ideas and experiences, we encourage them to see themselves going on to do things they didn’t think were possible. Whatever their goals may be, the thinking skills our 3D ThinkLink Initiative teaches will help our students achieve them.

3D ThinkLink Teachers Update Skills During Training Week

Freestate's Jonathan Brown, Capital Guardian's Keith Hammond, YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Freestate's Jamarr Dennis work with a JellyBox 3D printer during 3D ThinkLink Teacher Training on Sept. 27, 2017.

If there’s anything we enjoy as much as having students in our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab, it’s having teachers there.

Jonathan Brown and Jamarr Dennis from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and Keith Hammond from DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy came to our headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, the week of September 25 to learn about the newest elements of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative.

“We want to give them the best tools and motivate them to learn how to use those tools so they can be the best teachers for the at-risk students we serve,” explained YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks.

“I’m always happy when I come out here,” said Keith, who’s been a 3D ThinkLink teacher from the beginning in 2013, when we launched our project to use 3D printing as a vehicle for teaching critical thinking and problem solving skills to at-risk youth.

Capital Guardian's Keith Hammond and Freestate's Jonathan Brown and Jamarr Dennis learn about the M3D Micro 3D printer during 3D ThinkLink Teacher Training on Sept. 26, 2017.
Teachers learn about the M3D Micro

He praised the individual attention Tom provided during the training sessions, which included an introduction to new equipment such as the M3D Micro printer. The Micro is more versatile than the 3D Systems Cube printers we’ve used in classrooms for years and gives teachers more control over printing options.

Tom and the teachers also reviewed the new structure of the 3D ThinkLink curriculum. Based on the results from previous class cycles, we’ve reorganized the curriculum into blocks of four to five lessons, each of which which culminates with a benchmark project that involves all the skills students should have mastered by that point.

Jamarr, who’s in his second class cycle of 3D ThinkLink teaching, thinks the new structure will help his students at Freestate stay on pace from week to week. He said the benchmark projects should show him if students have missed something important before they move ahead in the curriculum.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks. show Moment of Inspiration 3D design software to Jonathan Brown from Maryland's Freestate ChalleNGe Academy during 3D ThinkLink Teacher Training Week in September, 2017.
Tom Meeks introduces Moment of Inspiration 3D design software to Freestate’s Jonathan Brown 

Jonathan, our newest 3D ThinkLink teacher at Freestate, was hesitant to get involved in the project at first because he wasn’t sure he could devote the time and effort it takes to learn about the software and hardware. But when he spent a week in our lab as a chaperone for two Freestate Cadets who completed advanced training this summer, he was convinced.

“When I saw how quick the kids grasped it and how much fun they had with it, I said I’m absolutely coming back,” Jonathan recalled.

As soon as a teaching position opened up, he volunteered. Within weeks, Jonathan was back in our lab working closely with Tom to become a 3D ThinkLink teacher.  

“I’m here early every day because I’m looking forward to what we’re going to pick up today. And Tom has matched all of my intensity,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of trying to be creative and seeing where my mind takes it.”

Tom will travel to the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Eastover next week to provide training for new teachers.

Congratulations to Our 3D ThinkLink Scholarship Winners

3D ThinkLink Scholarship Essay Contest Winners Asia Baker-Stevenson and LaMarcus Corley

The YouthQuest Foundation has awarded scholarships to two students who recently completed our 3D ThinkLink training.

Asia Baker-Stevenson from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and LaMarcus Corley from Washington DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy earned $500 each for the essays they wrote about the personal impact of their 3D ThinkLink experience.

YouthQuest provides instruction in 3D design and printing at the ChalleNGe academies to help Cadets develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, explore their creativity and gain self-confidence.

LaMarcus and Asia finished the 22-week residential phase of the ChalleNGe program in June and are now in the year-long post-residential phase, during which they work with an adult mentor to continue on the path to reach their potential as successful adults. The scholarship money is to be used for continued education or vocational training.

“Before I started 3D printing I was very insecure about myself. I thought I would never be good at anything,” Asia said in her essay, adding that she struggled with using the computer and design software at first. But she learned from her mistakes and persevered, making step-by-step improvements with each new project.

“I’ve learned that starting something new is for a purpose and that purpose is to never give up or quit on yourself,” she wrote. “I may not be able to complete things on my own, but I shouldn’t be afraid of failure.”

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy Cadet LaMarcus Corley in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab during Youth Mentor training in June, 2017
LaMarcus Corley in our lab for Youth Mentor training

Like Asia, LaMarcus discovered that 3D ThinkLink changed his way of thinking. He said it helped him control his anger and improve his concentration.

“When I come to class, my whole mood changes,” LaMarcus explained. “I become happy because I know that I’m in a good place.”

LaMarcus also said in his essay that if he had a 3D printer of his own, he would start a business to make things like toys and parts for bikes and cars.

“The reason I would create these objects is because I know people are less fortune than others and it would let me give back to the community,” he wrote.

Now LaMarcus has the opportunity to give back by being a Youth Mentor. In June, he and three other top Cadets from Freestate and Capital Guardian trained for a week in our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab. They received 3D printers, design software and laptops to use in sharing their skills with others in their community, serving as positive role models.

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap, best known for his Jonathan Grave thriller series, reads all the essays submitted and picks the winners in our semi-annual scholarship competition.

CLICK HERE the read the complete essays

Spring 2017 Scholarship-Winning 3D ThinkLink Student Essays

These students from the 2017 spring class cycle earned $500 scholarships for these essays about their 3D ThinkLink experience.

By Asia Baker-Stevenson
Freestate ChalleNGe Academy

The YouthQuest 3D printing program has transformed my way of thinking and my way of life in many different ways. Before I started 3D printing I was very insecure about myself. I thought I would never be good at anything. I’ve always believed that I would be a failure in life and that I would never be able to make my mom smile. When I signed up for 3D printing I thought my creativity would never be able to process. But once I started trying and putting my mind towards it, I realized that 3D printing helps society look so much easier. I didn’t know that I would be able to make a house, car, a necklace, and my name from the use of a 3D printer.

The students from the University of Maryland help out the economy by reconstructing cells with the usage of 3D printing. I’ve learned that there are more things in 3D printing than just shapes and colors. I’ve learned that you can use a 3D printing to reconstruct bones, and cells in a biochemistry lab. They used a 3D printer in order to show others the size of a 3 month old’s heart, with the use of an incubator they were able to disinfect and prevent bacteria from forming on new-born cells.

While being at The Foundery I was able to see a blacksmith make a spear while using nothing but fire and a sledgehammer. I also saw a 3D printer that prints with the usage of lasers which to me was amazing.

When I first signed up for 3D printing I didn’t believe that I would be able to create a successful design. Everything to me seemed to be impossible. I struggled to work on the computer. The very first design I made was my name because I felt as though my design wasn’t worthy enough to be put out into the real world. I became frustrated with myself I wanted to give up because my peers’ designs looked better than mine. The outcome of my first design encouraged me to keep going and to move on to create bigger and better things that will later help people out in life.

Joining 3D printing has taught me to always achieve bigger and better things. It has also taught me to never give up on anything because the simplest mistake that I make could turn out to make my project much better. While being in 3D printing I’ve learned that starting something new is for a purpose and that purpose is to never give up or quit on yourself. I may not be able to complete things on my own but I shouldn’t be afraid of failure.

_________________________________________

By LaMarcus Corley
Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy

I signed up for 3D printing and I did not get accepted the first time. I was very upset. I then talked to my case manager and she found a way to enter me into the class. My first day of 3D-printing was cool I learned a lot that I never knew before using a 3D printer. After my first day I decided that this was something that I would like to do because I am a creative person that likes to use my mind.

Now that I have more experience in the class and I know all the commands by heart for example, extrude means you can extend in the Z direction or be set to taper or follow a path. You can extrude an open or closed object to create 3D surface or solid. In my class, I learned how to make a clock, keychain, bookmark, ring, and a puzzle. I also made a clock for the Commanding General Walker. I also know how to change the filament on a 3D printer, load the cartridge, and level the print pad with the 3D plate attached to it.

If I had a 3D printer, I would start a business. I would create a toy company to be exact. I would create toys, fidget toys, parts for cars, and parts for bikes. The reason I would create these objects is because I know people are less fortune than others and it would let me give back to the community. My company would also be non-profit. All the money would come from my saved earnings. I would also create items for my family, and friends to show my knowledge of 3D printing and for myself.

3D printing has changed my life in many ways. It has helped me control my anger. It has also helped me control my ADHD. When I come to class my whole mood changes, I become happy because I know that I’m in a good place.

Swingin’ in the Rain at the YouthQuest Golf Tournament

Playing in the rain at YouthQuest Foundation charity golf tournament at Trump National 2017

Even though it rained for the first time in the event’s 12-year history, more than 100 players and volunteers turned out for our annual fundraiser on August 7.

YouthQuest Co-Founder Allen Cage putts at the foundation's 2017 charity golf tournament
YouthQuest Co-Founder Allen Cage putts

Washington Redskins alumni and first responders from Loudoun County, Virginia, were among the VIP guests who joined two dozen teams on the links at Trump National Golf Club’s Championship Course, which was the site of the Senior PGA Championship earlier this year.

“We were pleased to welcome three new sponsors this year; Insperity, Pure Storage and ePlus,” said YouthQuest Foundation Board Secretary and Tournament Committee Chairman Bill Hall.

Returning sponsors were AOC Solutions, 3Delta Systems, FEDAC Processing, Insurance Associates, the Poole Foundation, PNC, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Jones Lang LaSalle, Ritzert & Leyton PC, CrossFit PR Star, Experis Technology Group, AC Properties and Valley Forge Acquisition Corporation.

The tournament’s Silent Auction raised more money than ever and we collected an additional $2,500 through a new fundraising tool, the Giving Tree. The tree displayed at the post-tournament reception was decorated with tags that were 3D printed in our lab. Each tag gave donors an easy way to provide equipment, supplies and other resources for students in our 3D ThinkLink Initiative for at-risk youth.

Volunteer of the Year Tammy Haug (center) with volunteers Erica Stewart and Carol Schick from AOC at YouthQuest's 2017 charity golf tournament
Volunteer of the Year Tammy Haug (center) with volunteers Erica Stewart and Carol Schick from AOC Solutions

During the post-tournament reception, AOC Solutions National Sales Manager Tammy Haug was presented with YouthQuest’s Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition to working the golf tournament every year, she helped with our 10th Anniversary Celebration and the workshops we ran to introduce kids to 3D printing at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim, California, in 2015.

Laura d’All, general manager of Copy General’s East Coast Production Center in Sterling, Virginia, also was on hand to accept YouthQuest’s 2017 Community Partner Award. Copy General prints the golf tournament program each year and has made many generous contributions to advance our programs that serve America’s at-risk youth.

Supporters also gathered at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Tysons Corner on August 3 for our annual VIP Reception, where we showcased our 3D ThinkLink Youth Mentor project. Guests watched a video about top graduates of our 3D design and printing classes at Maryland’s Freestate and DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academies who completed a week of training in our lab to share their skills and serve as positive role models in their communities.

IMADE3D owners Ladi Goc and his wife, Ivana Gocova, accept our 2017 Strategic Partner Award from YouthQuest Co-Founders Allen Cage and Lynda Mann at the foundation's annual VIP Reception on August 3.
IMADE3D owners Ladi Goc and his wife, Ivana Gocova, accept our Strategic Partner Award from YouthQuest Co-Founders Allen Cage and Lynda Mann

Also at the VIP Reception, we announced IMADE3D as the winner of our 2017 Strategic Partner Award. The company makes the JellyBox, a unique, easy-to-assemble 3D printer kit designed especially for education. YouthQuest and IMADE3D have worked together since 2015. Advanced 3D ThinkLink students in our lab were the first group to test-build JellyBoxes with the inventors, Ladi Goc and his son Filip Goc, observing the process. The feedback from the students helped IMADE3D perfect the design and refine the assembly instructions before putting the JellyBox on the market. Now we have several of them in our lab.

Tournament volunteers at YouthQuest's charity golf tournament, August 7, 2017
Tournament volunteers in the clubhouse

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap was at both receptions to sign copies of Final Target, the latest book in his Jonathan Grave thriller series. John supports the 3D ThinkLink Initiative by serving as the judge in our essay contests. Twice a year, we invite ChalleNGe Academy students to write about how being in our 3D class affected them personally. The winners receive $500 scholarships to pursue higher education or vocational training.

Missing from this year’s tournament was Golf Entertainer Brad Denton, who has been part of the event for several years. Brad was injured in a serious car crash the week before the tournament, but he’s on the road to recovery now. To show our appreciation for him, tournament participants made donations to buy a $750 Tech Pack (3D printer, software and laptop), which will be given to a Youth Mentor on Brad’s behalf.

We look forward to having Brad back in action at our next tournament, scheduled for August 6, 2018.

YouthQuest Foundation Seeks 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab Operator

This is an opportunity to become a key member of the team at our nonprofit organization based in Chantilly, Virginia. We are seeking a part-time staffer to run YouthQuest’s 3D printing lab.

Details of the job description are below. To submit your resume and cover letter, please contact:
Juan Louro
juan.louro@youthquestfoundation.org

 YouthQuest 3D Printing Lab Operator (Part-Time)

Organization

Founded in 2002 and recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 in 2005, The YouthQuest Foundation’s mission is to provide life-changing opportunities for America’s at-risk youth.  The Foundation helps these youth fulfill their potential through academic and vocational development, infrastructure support and enrichment activities.

We do this primarily through our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, a unique education program that uses 3D design and printing to teach at-risk youth critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to unlock their creativity. 

To accomplish our mission, YouthQuest Foundation has established a design and print lab, known as the YouthQuest 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab at our headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia.  The primary purpose of this lab is to extend our educational goals for those at-risk populations we serve.  But, it is also intended that the lab be opened to the public on a membership basis that benefits our mission financially.

For more information, please visit www.youthquestfoundation.org

Position

The Board of Directors (BOD) is looking for an individual to fill the part-time position of 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab Operator.  The Lab Operator (LO) must be a leader who is able interact well with people and possess the ability to learn the software and hardware demands of the lab environment. This environment currently includes:

  • Moment of Inspiration Software
  • 3D Systems Second Generation Cube 3D Printers
  • 3D Systems Third Generation Cube 3D Printers
  • 3D Systems CubePro 3D Printers
  • JellyBox Kit Printers
  • M3D Micro 3D Printers
  • M3D Pro 3D Printers
  • M3D ProMega 3D Printers
  • ZCorp Z450 powder-bed 3D Printer
  • 3D Scanners

Responsibilities

Reporting to the Foundation Operations Manager, the LO will manage all aspects of the 3D ThinkLink Design & Print Lab and will have the following responsibilities:

  • Work in partnership with the Founders, the BOD, and YouthQuest Staff
  • Provide operational oversight of the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab
  • Prepare, use and troubleshoot lab printers
  • Maintain laptops
  • Teach CAD design using current lab software
  • Maintain a log of facility use and regularly update materials costs
  • Keep the lab in an organized and orderly condition
  • Order and maintain material inventory
  • Accept payments
  • Operate lab during published access times
  • Design and print on demand

Key Qualifications

As a prerequisite, the successful candidate must believe in the core values of the Foundation and be driven by the mission.  Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and commitment to the mission of The Foundation are paramount.  The candidate must also demonstrate a passion for learning all aspects of 3D printing and design so that they are able to help members with design and printing issues the members might encounter.

YouthQuest is an Equal Opportunity employer.  Personnel are chosen on the basis of ability without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, marital status or sexual orientation, in accordance with federal and state law.

Please submit resume and cover letter to juan.louro@youthquestfoundation.org

 

3D ThinkLink Students Eager to Share What They’ve Learned

Tom Meeks with 3D ThinkLInk immersion lab week students

Cadets from Maryland’s Freestate and DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academies prepared to serve as Youth Mentors during a week of immersion training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab this month.

“As far as I’m concerned, this was the most successful immersion experience we’ve done,” said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks. “We were totally focused this time on how to use their skills to be mentors to young people in their families and neighborhoods, and how to work in the community to demonstrate what 3D design and printing is.”

The 3D ThinkLink Initiative uses instruction in 3D design and printing as a vehicle for teaching at-risk youth about critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and confidence. The Youth ChalleNGe Program, run by the National Guard, gives dropouts a second chance to get their lives back on track and earn a high school degree.

Advanced students build a JellyBox 3D printer in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab during immersion training week June 2017
Advanced students work in the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab

For teens who have struggled in school, the experience of learning something cool like 3D printing and teaching it to others does wonders for their self-esteem.

“Now I can do things to help people who were in my shoes,” said Freestate Cadet David Kelly, 16, from Baltimore.

During daylong sessions in the lab, our advanced students became thoroughly familiar with the setup, operation and troubleshooting of the M3D Micro 3D printers they’ll be using as mentors. They also worked with new types of materials they hadn’t used in their on-campus classes, such flexible and color-changing filaments.

For the first time, the students made designs to be built in the lab’s full-color powder bed printer, so they could experience a professional level of 3D printing.

Staying motivated all week was no problem for these students. After a full day in the lab, they would take their laptop computers back to their hotel rooms and work on designs until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, then come back the next morning eager to print their creations.

‘It’s Like Therapy’

All four cadets said being involved in our program benefited them in ways that go far beyond gaining technical skills. They described 3D ThinkLink class as a respite from the regimented life at their ChalleNGe academies, where they spent 5 ½ months away from home.

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadet David Kelly holds a frame for a fidget spinner he 3D printed during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab June 2017
David Kelly holds a frame for a fidget spinner he 3D printed

David explained that he would get frustrated in other classes sometimes, but having the opportunity to use his imagination and design whatever he liked in 3D class every week always made him feel better.

“Making stuff calmed me down,” he said. “Whenever I make new things, I generally get happy. It lightens my mood.”

The same was true for Capital Guardian Cadet LaMarcus Corley.

“It has helped me control my anger,” the 17 year old from Washington, DC, wrote in a scholarship-winning essay about his 3D ThinkLink experience. “When I come to class, my whole mood changes. I become happy because I know that I’m in a good place.”

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy Cadet Adrian Vasquez uses Moment of Inspiration 3D software to create a design during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab June 2017
Adrian Vasquez uses Moment of Inspiration 3D design software

LaMarcus also said our class brought out the creativity he used to keep “all bottled in” and taught him how to “think about stuff differently.”

“It helped me with focusing more — paying attention to detail, getting everything right,” said Freestate Cadet Stephen Brown, 16, from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “It taught me to never give up and to focus on your goal.”

It also helped keep them out of trouble. All the cadets said they appreciated being chosen for the 3D ThinkLink program and enjoyed it so much that they wouldn’t risk being kicked out for misbehaving.

Before he enrolled at Capital Guardian, Cadet Adrian Vasquez said, he had problems in school.

“I would get good grades, but my mind would always be on something else. So I got caught up with stuff I wasn’t supposed to be around,” the 16-year-old from DC said. “But ever since I started 3D, my mind has been nowhere near that stuff.”

“It’s like therapy, a type of therapy. Working on 3D designs keeps me focused, not on the other nonsense stuff,” Adrian explained.

“And my mom is cheering me on,” he added. “She’s seen all the posts about us on Facebook and she’s never been so happy. She knows the rough times I had.”

Thinking Differently About the Future

The 3D ThinkLink experience opened these at-risk teens’ eyes to new opportunities and changed their view of what’s possible for them.

“I’ve never really been so confident about the things I’m doing,” said Adrian, who plans to become a master automotive technician.

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadet Stephen Brown checks a print on an M3D Micro 3D printer during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab June 2017
Stephen Brown checks one of his designs printing on an M3D Micro

Stephen is aiming for a career as a fashion designer and entrepreneur. With 3D printing playing an ever-increasing role in the fashion industry, he realizes the value of the hands-on experience he gained in our classes.

“It really helped me think outside the box and I can use that to my advantage in the future,” he said. “As I pursue my career, the 3D printer will really help me print out prototypes of designs.”

Learning 3D printing gave LaMarcus a new perspective about his options after graduating from Capital Guardian and he’s looking forward to being a Youth Mentor.

“I know it changed me, so I want to make a change in people’s lives,” he said.

So does Adrian, who was reminded of the importance of giving back when he discovered how 3D-printed prosthetic devices help people who’ve lost limbs.

“I had a mindset thinking that this was just for me or for my family,” he explained. “It’s not always for yourself. You can always improve someone else’s life.”

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy Cadet LaMarcus Corley uses the lab's full-color powder printer for the first time during immersion training week in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab June 2017
LaMarcus Corley uses the lab’s full-color powder printer for the first time

The work these students do as Youth Mentors will support YouthQuest’s goal of reducing America’s dropout rate.

David hopes the children he reaches will share his excitement about 3D printing and decide to learn more about it.

“This isn’t easy stuff. There’s a bunch of math in it, so you really have to stay in school to understand this,” he said.

David added that he’s eager to inspire younger kids “because they’re going to be the future for us.”

“I understand I’m the future now, but they’re going to be the future for me.”

YouthQuest Celebrates Prize-Winning Problem Solvers

2017 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition finalists

YouthQuest’s dream is for all the young people we reach to become successful adults who give back to their communities.

That’s why Youth ChalleNGe Cadets in our 3D ThinkLink classes are required to complete a community service project. It’s why we’re training students to use their 3D printing, critical thinking and problem solving skills to serve their communities as Youth Mentors.

And it’s why we support the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition, which challenges teens to give back by solving problems in their communities.

The goal of the annual event presented by Loudoun Youth, Inc. and Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services is to encourage, support and reward teens in Loudoun County, Virginia, for making positive changes in their own lives and the lives of others. YouthQuest has been the primary prize money sponsor of the contest since 2012.

Judges listen to a team's presentation at the 2017 Step Up Loudoun youth Competition
Judges listen to a team’s presentation at the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

Eighty teams submitted ideas last fall and 40 gave presentations during preliminary judging on March 27 at Trailside Middle School in Ashburn. Ten were chosen for the finals, held on April 5 at The Club at One Loudoun. More than two dozen local business and community leaders, including YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, volunteered as judges.

The students choose the issues and develop the projects to address them, so Step Up gives adults a fresh view of the world through the eyes of the next generation of leaders. This year, the environment, physical and mental health, education, bullying and traffic were among the students’ concerns.

The topics often are a reflection of current events. After a year filled with news about hacking and other cyber-shenanigans, Kriti Ganotra from Broad Run High School came up with the idea for Call of Security. She earned the $1,000 top prize in the Step Up contest by developing a free device that detects computer network vulnerabilities.

Loudoun County is home to the East Coast’s version of Silicon Valley. Up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic moves through data centers in the Dulles Tech Corridor, so a breakdown in Loudoun’s network can have widespread impact, Kriti explained in her presentation to the judges.

Kriti Ganotra presents her winning project, Call of Security, at the 2017 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition
Kriti Ganotra presents her winning project, Call of Security, at the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition finals

Kriti went online to research vulnerability scanning systems and find open-source code, which she modified to create a program that checks for weaknesses in all devices connected to a router by wifi, even TVs and appliances. Then she tested her scanner against Nessus, a leading professional service.

“Nessus is a vulnerability scanner used by the DoD (Department of Defense) costing about $50,000 a year and I found out my machine actually performs better than Nessus,” Kriti said in an interview with Loudoun Youth.

“I want to bring it to Loudoun County, using high schoolers to create a community where everyone is educated about cyber-bullying, cyber-security, cyber-threats and technology,” she added. “I want to bring this to every single house and eventually patent this into something that we can develop all around the nation.”

This year’s $750 second-place project was inspired a different sort of technological threat — the potentially deadly mix of smart phones and Northern Virginia’s notorious traffic congestion. The Put It Down team of Freya Panchamia, Saumya Sharma, Paras Sarjapur and Iyush Hoysal from Eagle Ridge, Mercer and Stone Middle Schools targeted the dangers of distracted driving by encouraging people to sign a pledge not to text while driving. They’ve reached more than 200 drivers so far and plan to continue the project.

The Put It Down team was excited to be picked as one of 10 finalists in the 2017 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition
The Put It Down team was excited to be picked as one of 10 finalists

“We know that we’re making a significant impact on Loudoun County because we’ve reached out to many people and we’ve gotten many pledges,” said Freya.

The Clean Kits team of Palak Shah and Areej Khan from John Champe High School made it to the top ten last year and went home with this $500 third-place prize this time. They have provided personal hygiene and sanitary products for homeless women in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties and Washington, DC, since last year.

“The reason we chose to tackle feminine hygiene is because people are afraid to talk about it. People are afraid to donate these products because they feel uncomfortable buying them,” Palak said. “The thing is, these are simple products that all women need.”

The Every Voice Heard project won the $150 fourth-place prize. Isabelle Nikkho and Tammy Niyomtes from Harper Park Middle School, responding to a recent rash of teen suicides in Loudoun, created website to raise awareness about depression and suicide and provide resources. They also raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The remaining six finalists all won $100 prizes for their projects.

Be Me for a Day – Anna Nguyen from Broad Run High School created “day in the life” videos to help students and adults choose a profession.

Clean Up Beaverdam Creek Reservoir – Lacey Tanner from Rock Ridge High School organized cleanup events and raised community awareness about protecting the reservoir.

Environment Rescuers – Shiril Yedhara, Rajul Vadera, Mira Warries, Keerthi Dasoju from Rock Ridge High School raised awareness among local students of the global water crisis.

Loudoun Purity – Priyanshi Jeevagan and Ananya Gahlot from East Ridge and Stone Hill Middle Schools organized a 3K walk to raise money for hygiene kits for people at the Leesburg Homeless Shelter.

Personal Teach – Ari Dixit from Stone Hill Middle School created a program with a voice interface fpr the Internet to help students improve their scores on standardized tests.

UnSalted – Taylor Jackson from Riverside High School developed an app to help students reduce stress.

Learn more about Step Up Loudoun Youth here.

Catching Up With 3D ThinkLink Graduate Dalonta Crudup

Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy 3D ThinkLink graduate Dalonta Crudup at the University of Kentucky

A few years ago, when he was in our first 3D ThinkLink class at the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, college seemed like a long shot for Dalonta Crudup. Now, he’s wrapping up a successful freshman year at the University of Kentucky.  

“I love it!” Dalonta, 21, told us in a phone call from the campus in Louisville.

He’s attending Kentucky on a basketball scholarship and plans to double-major in architecture and computer graphics. As if that’s not enough, this energetic freshman is also working on his autobiography.

“I’m writing a book. It’s basically about my life and how I grew up,” Dalonta said. “I’ve got eight chapters already.”

Dalonta Crudup (third from left) with other members of the first 3D ThinkLink class at Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy in 2013
Dalonta Crudup (third from left) with other members of the first 3D ThinkLink class at Capital Guardian

There’s plenty of compelling material for the story of how he went from the streets of DC to the campus of UK; problems in high school, the killing of his best friend, a life-changing 22 weeks at Capital Guardian, completing high school and prep school, earning a full scholarship to play for one of the nation’s winningest basketball teams. And that’s just the last four years.

His experience in our 3D design and printing class at CGYCA is part of Dalonta’s story, too.

“I do tell people about 3D class. When I tell people my name and you look up Dalonta Crudup on Google, my picture pops up in the 3D printing class,” he said. “And I tell them taking that class has helped me a lot because it showed me how get through obstacles in life.”

3D ThinkLink taught him not to give up, to ask for help and “keep trying until it’s done.” Dalonta said the experience gave him the confidence to take on other challenges.

He fell short of passing his GED exam by a few points at Capital Guardian, so he enrolled in high school in Frenchburg, Kentucky, and earned his diploma. Then it was on to Ridgeview Preparatory and Sports Academy in Hickory, North Carolina, to hone his skills as a point guard and shooting guard while taking classes to get ready for college-level academics. In his first year at the University of Kentucky, he’s been working to recover from a knee injury so he can start playing for legendary coach John Calipari next season.

Besides basketball, architecture has been part of Dalonta’s plan for years.

“I want to build my own house from the ground up,” he told us at CGYCA in 2013 when he was 17.

Looking back now, Dalonta said, learning to use CAD (computer-aided design) software in our class helped convince him that he could handle architecture and design classes in college.

“After I learned 3D in class, I kept on doing it,” he said. “I actually practiced at home with a program I use on my laptop computer.”

A FINAL PROJECT, A LASTING LESSON

Dalonta’s strongest memory from 3D ThinkLink class was creating a tribute to his best friend, Malik Spears – known as “Wiz” – who was fatally shot the day Dalonta entered CGYCA.

“He was like a brother and I was with him every single day,” Dalonta recalled. “I was very sad. I was very frustrated.”

Toward the end of the class cycle, Dalonta found an outlet for his emotions when the 3D ThinkLink students got their final assignment. They had to use the skills they’d learned to create any kind of ornament they liked.

Dalonta decided to make a memorial to Wiz with a poem he’d written about his friend. He wanted to make something that would “show appreciation from me to his family.”

3D printing projects rarely turn out right the first time and putting text on an object can be especially tricky. It took three weeks for Dalonta to perfect his ornament.

“I was getting mad because we printed a lot and the words kept being smashed together and we had to keep switching up the size and the font to make sure you could read each and every letter and every word,” he explained.

Dalonta’s persistence paid off a few weeks later when he gave the ornament to Wiz’s mother for Christmas.

“She actually started crying,” he said. “It was a candlelight service and I stood in the middle of the crowd and read the poem.”

Rest in Peace, Wiz. We miss you.
We thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday
And days before that, too.

Dalonta’s experience helped YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks realize the importance of teaching our students to use text in their 3D designs. Now it’s one of the first things they learn because students always want to personalize items with names or initials and give them to someone they love. Giving at-risk kids the skills and tools to create things that are emotionally meaningful motivates them to work through problems and achieve success.

“I used to be worried all about myself. Now, I think different. I look at life different.” Dalonta said. “I worry about myself still, but now I worry about others around me, too. “

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