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.
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.
“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!”
These students from the 2016 spring class cycle earned $500 scholarships for these essays about their 3D ThinkLink experience.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
These three students from the 2015 fall-winter class cycle earned $500 scholarships for these essays about their 3D ThinkLink experience.
By Kathaleen Polanco
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
My name is Kathaleen Polanco Aponte Bejarano and I’m from Beaufort County. I was born in Hilton Head Island, but I live in Bluffton. I was chosen by Mr. Johnson to be in the 3D printing class, which by the way, I’m so excited to be in. I find it amazing that I and nine other girls are in 3D printing out of the entire nineteen cadets available. To me 3-D printing is a way to escape real life. It’s a way where I can be in my own little place, a place where I can design any and everything. It’s new way to release my anger.
I find that being in 3D printing gives me another opportunity in life, actually this whole program gives me another opportunity in life. I want to surround myself with positive things and positive people. I’m so happy my parents sent me to this program, Of course I didn’t want to go to South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy but after the first day I realized it was my last chance to make my parents and myself proud. I’m sick of breaking my parents’ heart. I needed a change in the life I was living. I see a change in me that no one in my family thought could happen.
I can proudly say I’m proud of myself for participating in 3D printing I would love to make things for my sister and my parents even for my future babies. I’m going to be very honest, after this program I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do with my life. That’s exactly why I’ve decided to join Aiken Tech College and study Computer Networking where I can further my education and hopefully further my skills with a 3D printer.
It was so good to meet Tom. He gave me the idea to further my education. I wasn’t sure if I was going to complete this program with my GED. When I asked Tom if I could make it out on the real world and survive without my GED, he told me anything is possible, it would just be little harder without any higher education. Tom inspired me to be a better me and never give up no matter how hard life gets. ‘’Fall seven get up eight.’’
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
This quote to me means that you can decide where you end up in life and that you have the brains and you have the power and you can walk the steps necessary to be successful in life…..YOU!
By Kimora Felton
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
My name is Kimora Felton. I’m 16 years old and from Myrtle Beach SC. I’m a cadet from the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
Before getting involved with 3D printing my mind was scattered. 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. Finding myself as a student of Youth Quest Foundation Program made me think of myself as someone. I finally found a way to express myself through creating digital objects and turning them all into 3 dimensional physical models.
First, I got a mental image of the idea. Secondly, I transferred my mental image onto the computer. Finally, I printed the object out using the Cube 3 3D printing machine.
I decided that I would involve 3D Printing into my future career. I plan to major in Animal Science at Coastal Carolina University which will authorize me to be veterinarian. Involving 3D printing into this field will give deformed, damaged or diseased animals that are on the verge of being euthanized a second chance. “All creatures are deserving of a life free from fear and pain.”- Maura Cummings
3D printing will allow me to create prosthetic limbs and implants for injured animals, which will make life trouble-free and unchallenging. By scanning a healthy animal just like the injured one, I can generate the body part to be molded and printed. As the animal grows, the implant or amputee will have to be changed out and made again. The materials used in 3D printing can not only copy the function of the missing part, but also combine with the structure of the animal. For every animal that would have put down, 3D printing has brought far more than a million reasons to continuing life for such animals.
I feel that I deserve this immersion scholarship because I’ve shown a mass amount of interpersonal communication skills, hard-work ethic and creativity.
By Emilee Bray
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
My name is Emilee Bray, I was born on April 24th 1998, and this makes me 17 years of age. I am currently a cadet at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, my reason for attending this academy is to acquire my GED.
I have been offered many opportunities including 3D printing. The 3D printer was founded by Charles W. Hull in the mid-1980s. 3D printers use a process called “stereolithography” which uses UV lasers to strengthen photopolymer that creates 3D parts by layers.
I plan on enrolling in Aiken Technical College in January 2016 to study Health Care; health care is a constant topic in society today. Now, with the fast paced development of additive inventions, the increasingly popular technologies often referred to as 3D printers, the future of health care is proceeding in ways both acquainted and dramatically new. 3D printing is making a significant impact on health care patients, whether it’s a cast or a brace. Medical professionals are rising in discovering this printing device because it shortens costs and improves healthcare patients.
3D printing has impacted my life in a number of ways. On October 22nd, 2015 my 3D printing class and I went to 3D Systems and two other 3D printing centers. I learned a variety of interesting facts, one of them being this device can print food, human body parts, and other fun and exciting objects such as iPhone cases and any device stand to prop your gadget. You can also 3D print different materials like glass, gold, platinum, silver, titanium and other steels, etc. If I were to break any type of bone in my body, I could 3D print a cast or splint for myself that would make a big impact in my life.
John F. Kennedy once said: “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”, meaning if you don’t make an effort or have enough courage to do what you want to do in life than you won’t succeed or have a purpose in whatever you want to do. With that being said, when I become an assistant in the medical field I will have courage and make an effort to change somebody’s life all thanks to 3D printing.
Eight young people who spent a week in our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab this month learned new skills and took part in hands-on research that will benefit other 3D printing enthusiasts.
“Not only did our students broaden their 3D design and printing experience by exploring the complexities of full-color 3D printing workflows, they provided valuable early feedback for the developers and manufacturers of two new 3D technologies,” said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks.
They were selected for Lab Week because of their outstanding performance in the latest cycle of 3D ThinkLink classes at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies serving South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia. YouthQuest provides the equipment, curriculum and training for the residential academies to help at-risk teens develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through 3D design and printing.
It was the largest group so far to receive 40 hours of advanced training in our Chantilly, Virginia, facility. Unlike the typical maker space, the 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab is dedicated solely to 3D design, scanning and printing. It is a true laboratory environment designed to promote comparative analysis and develop creative solutions.
The students were the first to experience the lab’s new 3D scanning and printing capabilities, and the first to assemble a unique 3D printer kit.
Going With the Workflow
The week began with an introduction to Cubify Sculpt, a type of 3D design software the students had never tried.
In their classes at school, they used Moment of Inspiration (MoI), a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program that turns two-dimensional shapes into three-dimensional objects. Sculpt is an organic modeling program in which the students begin with a 3D object and modify it in all sorts of creative ways, as if digitally sculpting a piece of virtual clay.
Step-by-step, they worked their way through the process of designing simple objects such as personalized rings using MoI and Sculpt. Now that every lab workstation is equipped with a Cube 2 printer – thanks to a generous donation from our strategic partner, 3D Systems – it was easy for the students to run test prints so they could quickly evaluate and improve their designs.
“As I began making the images and creating stuff I started to realize that this is a game-changer. It was amazing to me because I never even worked with this type of material before,” said South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy (SCYCA) graduate John Smith. “It helped me realize my passion for art and my talent is there … and I can use it to help other people.”
Once they got a feel for organic modeling, the students took turns making 3D scans of each other and learned how Sculpt fits into the workflow of preparing the files for printing. Then they were able to create full-color mini-busts of themselves using the lab’s recently acquired Z450 powder bed printer.
Evaluating 3D Scanners
The students tested and evaluated two kinds of handheld 3D scanning devices: the 3D Systems Sense and an HP tablet with Intel’s RealSense technology.
They experimented with various scanning techniques and lighting conditions, then conducted a focus group with Tom to discuss their findings.
They found the tablet was easier to use than the Sense, which has no onboard monitor and must be connected to a computer by a cumbersome cable. However, they noted that both devices had trouble capturing images of dark-skinned people.
“Scanning can be aggravating when it messes up and you have to redo it, but it’s still really fun,” said SCYCA grad Emilee Bray.
“It’s cool to have a 3D figure of yourself,” she added. “Nobody I know has that kind of stuff!”
The group had several ideas for simplifying the workflow and suggested improvements in the RealSense software’s visual feedback to help users hold the tablet at the proper distance from subjects while scanning.
Their feedback is being shared with the leaders of the Sense for Intel RealSense application development team at 3D Systems.
Assembling 3D Printers
The JellyBox, from iMade3D, is a soon-to-be-released 3D printer kit designed specifically for educational use. Its innovative design makes it easy to put together and take apart so it can be used over and over to teach students how a 3D printer works.
The students paired up to do the first independent evaluation of the JellyBox assembly process. Members of the iMade3D team spent a full day in the lab watching them put together four printers.
“It was fun. I mean, we messed up several times, but we still finished in a day,” said SCYCA’s Justin Lewis.
“And for every mistake, we learned from it,” added Amadou Abakar, from DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy (CGYCA).
The students had a finished JellyBox to look at, but were given minimal instructions. At first, they all thought it would be difficult to assemble their kits, but the teams quickly gained confidence as they figured out how to put the pieces together.
Kimora Felton from SCYCA was so wrapped up in the project that when it was time for lunch, she didn’t want to stop working.
“I really love making stuff,” she explained. “When something really interests me, I go straight for it.”
“I was really impressed and I loved the energy and the attention the students devoted to the project,” said Filip Goc, the JellyBox’s primary designer, noting that their feedback will be invaluable in perfecting the design and refining the assembly instructions before the product goes on the market.
Osman Bah from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy called the experience “amazing.” He said he’d never expected to meet an inventor like Filip and “see how his mind works.”
“The advice he gave me was to just follow the steps and put your mind to it,” Osman recalled.
“A Life-Changing Experience”
A week of immersion training in our lab taught the students some lessons in life, along with advanced 3D skills.
“I learned how to work with people that I don’t know. I usually don’t like doing that,” said Emilee, who teamed up with Osman to build a JellyBox. “It was interesting getting to know someone while working on a project with them.”
She discovered that even though they’re from different states and have “a different perspective on everything,” they could put their minds together.
“It did get aggravating at times, but we still worked through it and we still made it,” she said.
“I was proud of us because we worked hard on that thing. We never quit,” added Emilee, who went directly from Lab Week to South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College – the next step in her plan to become a nurse anesthetist.
John, who impressed everyone in the lab with his design talents described our 3D ThinkLink training as “a life-changing experience” that’s given him new skills and tools to help him pursue a career in art.
“Being involved in 3D ThinkLink makes me think about the different opportunities I have. Being here gives you a better chance of going somewhere, for example, college or getting a job,” agreed Josh Nembhard, a Freestate grad who plans to study visual design.
Nate Sydnor from CGYCA also said the experience fueled his passion for art by helping him see things in different ways. In addition, he found it rewarding to participate in the scanning and JellyBox research.
“I can look back on this and say I accomplished something great because we are a part of history. We’re making history,” Nate said.
“I’m involved in something that’s going to impact a lot of people in the future. It makes me feel inspired and motivated,” Osman added.
Amadou, who aspires to be an electrical engineer, recalled that on the first day of Lab Week, the students talked about the aphorism that a koi fish grows bigger when it swims in a larger pond.
“This has been a really big pond for us to grow and learn and develop,” he said. “And this is really important because this isn’t something we’re going to leave here. It’s something we can take with us wherever we go.”
We are pleased to welcome Juan Louro to the YouthQuest Foundation team. He joined us as Operations Manager this month.
Juan brings to the job a deep, personal appreciation for YouthQuest’s mission to serve at-risk youth.
“I understand what it means for a child to be at-risk because I experienced it myself growing up,” he said.
Born and raised in a small community outside of Fresno, California, Juan didn’t speak English when he started school. In his hometown, young Latinos like him saw drugs and violence all around them. They were constantly under pressure to join gangs. He credits his mother and his middle school guidance counselor with keeping him away from trouble.
Juan understands the way many at-risk kids look at life – and what it takes to help them see things differently.
“I know they don’t realize there’s a world outside of the three to six blocks where they grow up,” he explained.
Juan’s thinking began to change when his guidance counselor took him and his classmates to visit Fresno State University about 20 years ago.
“That opened my eyes. I remember it just like it was yesterday,” he said. “I’d never seen anything like it and, for the first time, I thought about going to college.”
That new experience at Fresno State planted a seed. A few years later, Juan found himself in a new environment where the seed would grow.
His family moved across the country to Tampa, Florida, where he attended a high school that was unlike anything he’d known in California.
“The expectations were high. Something like 97 percent of the kids from the high school I attended went on to college,” Juan recalled. “The question became not if I was going to graduate from high school, but what I was going to do after I graduated.”
Juan got serious about his education and his future. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Business Administration. After working as an office manager for a construction company in Tampa, Juan moved to Northern Virginia five years ago. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and their two children, a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter.
Before coming to YouthQuest, he spent two years with the International Association of Chiefs of Police as Executive Assistant to the Executive Office and point of contact for the Global Affairs Department. He also was an Administrative Assistant at Daon Trusted Identity Services, a TSA contractor, for two years.
Juan’s duties at YouthQuest include daily operations management, event coordination and financial oversight. We are confident his skills, experience and insights will be instrumental in expanding our 3D ThinkLink Initiative and other programs for at-risk youth as we enter our second decade as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Santa just made an early delivery to The YouthQuest Foundation. A sleighload of Cube 2 3D printers has arrived from 3D Systems.
“We are so very grateful to 3D Systems for their generosity and continued support of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. They resonate with our educational goal to provide critical thinking and problem solving skills to America’s at-risk youth, particularly high school dropouts,” said YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. “3D Systems products are the heart of our program, and this generous donation allows us to expand our initiative to more youth who are working to turn their lives around.”
“This also gives us the resources to launch a pilot program in 2016 that will provide training for young adults with high-spectrum autism, and we are very excited about the possibilities in the new year,” she added.
The 3D ThinkLink Initiative uses instruction in 3D design and printing as a tool to teach at-risk youth critical thinking and problem solving skills, and to stimulate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The Cube 2 is a basic, easy-to-use printer that’s been a workhorse in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative ever since the project began in 2013. So far, YouthQuest has taught nearly 200 young people how to use it to transform their ideas into 3D-printed reality.
Having these additional printers at class sites will mean less waiting and more creating for students, who are always eager to see how the objects they design with 3D modeling software turn out when printed. For those who receive advanced training at the 3D ThinkLink Lab in Chantilly, Virginia, there will be a Cube 2 available for every student.
3D Systems is YouthQuest’s strategic partner in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative. Nearly all the equipment in the lab is made by the company – from the consumer-level Cube 2 and Cube 3 machines to professional-grade printers and scanners.
3D Systems also hosts Vocational Orientation tours of its headquarters in Rock Hill for all 3D ThinkLink students from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
Now in its 10th year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, YouthQuest ‘s mission is to provide the resources at-risk youth need to become successful adults. Learn more at www.YouthQuestFoundation.org.