YouthQuest Introduces Tomorrow’s Engineers to 3D Printing

Students are introduced to 3D design and printing in a workshop presented by YouthQuest at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim, California March 26, 2015

More than 70 students from across the United States and Canada attended the YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D printing workshops at the Annual National Society of Black Engineers Convention on March 26.

Two students in a YouthQuest workshop at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim work on a design for a 3D-printed tag

Students work on a design for a 3D-printed tag

“It was really rewarding to be able to share our critical thinking and problem solving rubric using 3D printing with these very bright and talented youth,” said YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann, who led our team at the event in Anaheim, California.

“We were excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity for youth of all ages to expand their knowledge and gain invaluable experience within key STEM disciplines,” she added.

The workshops gave middle school and high school students a taste of what we teach in 3D ThinkLink classes at the Maryland, District of Columbia and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where 3D printing is used as a tool for developing creativity and thinking skills.

CREATING TAGS

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks shows students how to use Moment of Inspiration 3D design software in a workshop at the NSBE convention in Anaheim, California, March 26, 2015.

Tom Meeks explains the class project

Our three 90-minute sessions at the NSBE Convention focused on Moment of Inspiration, the 3D modeling software we use in 3D ThinkLink classes.

“Learning about 3D printing turns on your brain,” YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks told the students. He explained that Moment of Inspiration (MOI) provides a “link” to transform the ideas in their brains into 3D-printed objects they can hold in their hands.

Tom guided the students through the steps to make key chain tags personalized with their initials and a simple design they created.

He demonstrated how to start with two-dimensional shapes such as circles or rectangles and use the software to combine them and add a third dimension – in this case, giving the tags depth and raising the initials and designs. Introducing an engineering principle to the future engineers, he showed how raising the tag’s rim by one millimeter made the object stronger while minimizing material use and print time.

As he does in all our 3D ThinkLink classes, Tom urged the students not to fear failure. If something goes wrong, he told them, don’t give up; go back and figure out how to correct the mistake and then keep working toward your goal. If you get stuck, he said, ask for help; and if someone else is struggling, try to help them.

TEAMING UP

3D ThinkLink instructor La-Toya Hamilton from Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy shows a student how to use Moment of Inspiration 3D modeling software during a workshop of the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim, March 26, 2015

La-Toya Hamilton shows a student how to use Moment of Inspiration

With a little help from the YouthQuest convention team, nearly every student was able to complete the project within the allotted time.

La-Toya Hamilton, a counselor at DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy who also teaches 3D ThinkLink classes there, was instrumental in keeping the sessions running smoothly by helping individual students who had problems with MOI.

Our convention team also included YouthQuest Secretary Bill Hall, Communications Director Steve Pendlebury and Tammy Haug, National Sales Manager for AOC Solutions, who generously volunteered to come in from San Diego and help with the workshops.

A Cube 3 printer makes a batch of key chain tags designed by students in YouthQuest 's 3D printing workshops at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim March 26, 2015

A Cube 3 printer makes a batch of tags

The files the students created in our workshops contained all the data a 3D printer needs to build the tags by precisely stacking ultra-thin layers of plastic, which is melted by the print head and then hardens instantly.

Thanks to our bank of four Cube 3 printers made by 3D Systems, our 3D ThinkLink strategic partner, we were able to load up all the files from the Thursday workshops and print out every tag during the evening, so the students could pick them up at our display table first thing Friday morning.

GETTING NOTICED

Convention officials told us the workshops were among the most in-demand events for pre-college students. And every time the Cube 3 printer at our display table was running, a crowd gathered.

Students and adult group leaders wanted to know how to get started with 3D printing. For example, one group hopes to make customized phone cases as a fundraising project. Another student has a dream of providing solar-powered 3D printers in remote African villages to make tools, parts and utensils.

Students show the 3D-printed tags they created in YouthQuest's workshop at the National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Anaheim March 27, 2015.

Students show the 3D-printed tags they created

The National Society of Black Engineers is dedicated to the academic and professional success of African-American engineering students and professionals. With more than 30,000 members worldwide, it’s one of the largest student-governed nonprofit organizations based in the U.S. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.”

This was our first NSBE Convention. We are honored to have been invited. Being involved in such an important event significantly raised YouthQuest’s profile and helped us connect with individuals and groups from the education, engineering and youth services communities. We hope we’ll be able to do even more at next year’s NSBE Convention in Boston.

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View of design for 3D-printed tag in Moment of Inspiration modeling software

 

CLICK HERE to see instructions for downloading a free 30-day trial version of Moment of Inspiration and a step-by-step guide to create the tags we made in the NSBE workshops.

 

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National Society of Black Engineers sign at Anaheim Convention Center

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YouthQuest Teams With Loudoun Youth to Reward Teens Who ‘Step Up’

Teams set up their project displays for the 2015 Step Up Loudoun Youth competition, sponsored by the YouthQuest Foundation

One of the ways the YouthQuest Foundation encourages young people to be creative thinkers and problem solvers is by supporting the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks presents prize money for the 2015 Step Up Competition to Loudoun Youth President Jared Melivin

Tom Meeks presents contest prize money to Loudoun Youth President Jared Melvin

This is the fourth straight year we have provided the prize money for the contest, in which middle school and high school students from Loudoun County, Va., develop projects to address issues they believe are important in their community. The goal is to encourage, support and reward the youth of Loudoun County for making positive changes in their own lives and the lives of others.  

Twenty-seven teams presented their projects to a panel of judges on March 19 at the Loudoun County Public Schools Administration Building in Ashburn.

“I was very impressed. These kids are real go-getters,” said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, who served as one of the two dozen judges for the first time this year. He praised the students’ passion for their chosen issues, which included education, homelessness, bullying, sexual assault, stress and depression, diversity, traffic safety and health.

Allison Ball, Kelsey Clark and Hannah Ratcliffe explain their project, Charitable Act, at the 2015 Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition

(L-R) Allison Ball, Kelsey Clark and Hannah Ratcliffe explain their project, Charitable Act

The $1,000 grand prize went to Charitable Act, which provides summer theater camps for underprivileged children. Hannah Ratcliffe founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to “share her love for theater with the world.” Hannah and her Briar Woods High School classmates Kelsey Clark and Allison Ball wowed the judges with a presentation that featured a little three-part harmony and lots of enthusiasm.

Amina Bukasa from Virginia Academy took the $500 second-place prize for her Define Yourself project, which aims to boost young women’s self-esteem with activities that celebrate their inner and outer beauty.

Robab Newbury and Rohan Arora from J. Michael Lunsford Middle School earned third place and $250 for LOUDOUNHEALTH, a project that provides online information about health and diseases for the people of Loudoun County.

Winners of the fourth- through seventh-place prizes will get $200 and $100 will go to the eighth-, ninth- and tenth-place teams.

The top 10 teams will be honored at a reception on March 26, where they will talk about their winning projects and receive their prize money. A full list of winners and their projects will be available on the Loudoun Youth website.

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VIDEO: Life Lessons Learned in 3D ThinkLink Classes

List of how to achieve goals made by 3D ThinkLink Lab students

The YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative reached new heights as the New Year began, thanks to our generous supporters and a group of outstanding students who took part in our Immersion Lab training.

The success of our annual golf tournament and other fundraisers made it possible for us to give at-risk youth better tools to strengthen their critical thinking skills and explore their creativity during a week of study at our headquarters in Chantilly, Va.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks  sets up a new CubePro 3D printer with 3DThinkLink Lab students Caleb Dujmovic and Christopher Coleman.

Setting up a CubePro printer

The YouthQuest Foundation provides a course in 3D design and printing for National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where high school dropouts get a chance to turn their lives around. Instructors at the Academies serving Maryland, South Carolina and the District of Columbia selected six graduates to receive 40 hours of advanced training in our lab during the week of January 5-9.

The first day of class felt a bit like Christmas morning when three large boxes containing CubePro 3D printers arrived. The students eagerly unpacked and set up the machines made by our strategic partner, 3D Systems, Inc.

The CubePros are a giant step up from the basic, single-color Cube2 printers they used at school. The CubePros are much larger, faster, more precise and can create two- or three-color objects in a single operation.

Dylan Foster's chess piece design in Moment of Inspiration software

Dylan Foster’s chess piece design in Moment of Inspiration software

In addition, we gave each student a tablet computer loaded with the new version of Moment of Inspiration 3D design software.

Imaginations quickly shifted into high gear as the students discovered what they could do with these new tools. Their projects included customizing solar-powered robots, making parts for a simple prosthetic hand and experimenting with all sorts of creative, multi-color designs.

For each project, the students had to create a plan to turn an idea into reality using their knowledge of the software and hardware. They made test prints, studied what worked and what failed, and kept improving their designs until they reached their goals.

This process of working through problems to achieve success is the foundation of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. The project is about much more than introducing at-risk kids to the burgeoning technology of 3D printing. Our goal is to help young people who’ve made bad decisions learn to think differently.

On the final day of Lab Week, we asked the students to make a list of the most important things they had learned. Among their answers:

  • DON’T GIVE UP
  • SLOW DOWN
  • ASK FOR HELP
  • FAILURE IS NOT FINAL
  • ACCEPT NEW CHALLENGES

There’s nothing on the list about 3D printing specifically. Instead, these are lessons for building a better life.

To us, that means 3D ThinkLink Lab Week was a great success.

MEET THE STUDENTS

3D ThinkLInk Lasb student Dylan Foster from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy holds his walking robotDylan Foster, who plans to be an artist, took full  advantage of the new tools in our Lab. With a three-color printer available for the first time, he designed several red, white and blue creations, including a beautifully detailed chess piece. For his robot project, he made a battery holder that’s simpler and works better than the one our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, had devised. Our classes also taught him to stay focused on his goals. “I used to give up a whole lot easier,” he said. The South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate, who had never been so far from home before, said he “met a lot of good people” and gained valuable skills during the week in the 3D ThinkLink Lab. “It’s worth the time you put into it,” Dylan said. “You can learn a lot and do a lot.”

Lessons Learned:

“Stay determined, never give up.”

“If I make a mistake or get something wrong once, that’s not the end of it … Try again and try again and try again.”

“It’s good to be creative.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Kamie Moody from Freestate ChalleNGe Academy“Frustration was a big problem for me,” Kamie Moody admitted. Our 3D ThinkLink classes became her “outlet” from the daily pressures at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy. “Every Monday, when I had 3D, I was excited,” she recalled.  Kamie appreciated the chance to learn about CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software because it will help her pursue a career in architecture. Experimenting with Moment of Inspiration’s new features brought out her creative talent. On a small scale, her designs look like jewelry, but on a large scale, they could be futuristic buildings. “The 3D ThinkLink program basically solidified what I already knew; that designing is something that I really want to do,” she said.

Lessons Learned:

“Keep trying. Don’t give up. It may be a little too complex at first, but if you modify it, it doesn’t have to change completely. Just make it work for you and what you know.”

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EricTablet“3D deals with a lot of measurements, a lot of exact points. The smallest thing can mess up the result,” Eric Wright explained. “Every step you take, you’ve got to make sure it’s correct … If you mess up, you learn from your mistake.” His favorite lab project was making a two-color replica of his iPhone, which required him to take precise measurements of every surface using a digital caliper. “The hardest part was getting the details right,” Eric said, but he worked through the problem step-by-step until he succeeded.  Even though he’d never heard of the technology before joining our class at Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Eric is so interested in 3D printing now that he’d like to work in the field. He hopes the training we provided will give him an advantage in competing for a job. “It’s good because it opens you to do new things and see new things,” said Eric.

Lessons Learned:

“Be creative.”

“Think before you act and learn from your mistakes.”

“Don’t stress. Don’t get yourself mad because you can’t do something; just learn how to do it.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Caleb Dujmovic from Freestate ChalleNGe Academy with a cell phone stand he createdOur training might turn out to be a life-changing experience for Caleb Dujmovic. He was one of the top students in his 3D ThinkLink class at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, where he said he enjoyed learning to make things for his family and friends. His favorite lab project was making a cellphone stand because it incorporated everything he’d learned during the week about Moment of Inspiration’s new features. Caleb applies the problem-solving skills we’ve taught him to his current job in the construction business, but he’s set his sights on a bio-engineering career. It’s something he’d never considered until he visited the Maryland NanoCenter’s Tissue Engineering Lab during Vocational Orientation Day. Learning how 3D printing is being used to create bones, blood vessels, skin and other tissues opened the door to a world beyond construction for Caleb. “Seeing the steps behind what they do made me more interested in it because it’s like a puzzle of how to solve something or find something new,” he said. “It showed me what I want to do in the future.”

Lessons Learned:

“There’s not just one way to do something.”

“Trial and error – it goes hand-in-hand with life.”

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3DThinkLInk Lab student Christopher Coleman from Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe AcademyNicknamed “Highspeed” by the staff at Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy because he was often ahead of his classmates, Christopher Coleman was first exposed to 3D design software in 8th grade. Later, he “really got hooked on 3D” in the Hirshhorn Museum’s ARTLAB+ program. Our 3D ThinkLink classes taught him how to use new design tools and printers he’d never tried before. The self-described “loner” says he also learned to ask for help and work with others. “This program particularly helped me with a lot of my faults – things that I’ve got to improve,” Christopher said. “I learned to be more humble … There’s people that know stuff that I don’t know, and they don’t know things that I know.”

Lessons Learned:

“If there’s something that’s hard, don’t try to take the easy way around it. Keep going straight. Because if you keep going straight and play with stuff, you might find something new that will help you.”

“Be open and try new things. Don’t limit yourself. Go the extra mile for what you want to do.”

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3D ThinkLink Lab student Sherquana Adams from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy holds a partially assembled 3D-printed robohandAt first, Sherquana Adams didn’t want to sign up for our class at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy because she thought 3D printing was “for geeks.” But the more she learned about the many ways this technology is being used, the more interested she became. Sherquana, who aspires to be a surgical technician, was amazed by the medical applications for 3D printing. She thought it was “really cool” to put together 3D-printed pieces to make a kid-size prosthetic hand during Lab Week. “I now have a way to express myself,” she said. In just a few months, her opinion of 3D printing has shifted 180 degrees: “This is not for geeks, this is for anybody!”

Lessons Learned:

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“The sky is the limit and you should never doubt yourself.”

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If you would like to help us expand our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@YouthQuestFoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

3D ThinkLink Students Earn Scholarships in Essay Competition

Essay contest scholarship winner Kamie Moody with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann. at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy December 9, 2014.

The YouthQuest Foundation awarded $500 scholarships to four at-risk teens who wrote outstanding essays about what being in our 3D ThinkLink classes meant to them.

Sherquana Adams and Michael Foster were honored during the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s awards ceremony in Eastover, S.C., on Dec. 3. Caleb Dujmovic and Kamie Moody received their awards Dec. 9 at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Edgewood, Maryland.

“3D printing has given me a completely new confidence about the way I think when creating,” Kamie, 19, wrote in her essay. “I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the best artist, I just have to have the capacity to think outside of the box.”

She recalled the 3D ThinkLink Initiative’s most important lesson: Failure is not final.

University of Maryland graduate student Kim Ferlin talks with Kamie Moody in the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab at the Maryland NanoCenter.

University of Maryland graduate student Kim Ferlin talks with Kamie Moody in the Tissue Engineering Lab at the Maryland NanoCenter.

Kamie and her classmates learned that the 3D objects they designed rarely turned out as expected the first time. The software and hardware we provided made it easy for them to analyze their mistakes, improve their designs and quickly print new versions.

“It takes us a few tries before we get our desired outcome,” Kamie explained. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve bitten off more than we could chew, it just means that we have to put in more work to get to our goal. The key is to keep trying.”

This is a radically different way of thinking for young people who once responded to failure by giving up on school.

Our project does more than introduce students to the basics of 3D design and printing. It teaches them about critical thinking and problem solving – skills that are sorely lacking in high school dropouts.

‘I Have Found My Gift’

Our students in Maryland and South Carolina, as well as those at the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, enrolled in the programs run by the National Guard to resume their education and develop the fundamental life skills they need to become successful adults. Their teachers chose them for our 3D ThinkLink classes to supplement their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

The rigorous 22-week residential program “can get extremely challenging at times,” Kamie wrote. “I was desperate to find an outlet. 3D printing became that outlet.”

Our training gave her the tools to bring out her “inner creativity.”

“I’ve been a tactile learner for as long as I can remember.” Kamie continued. “I loved to put things together to challenge my mind to build things from scraps and make them into something complete.”

“The feeling I get when I’ve brought to life something that started off as a mere thought in my head is indescribable.”

Kamie’s success in class has inspired her to continue pursuing a career in architecture and design.

“I truly believe that I have found my gift and with it, I plan to leave my mark,” she declared.

Essay contest scholarship winner Caleb Dujmovic with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann.

Scholarship winner Caleb Dujmovic with YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Co-Founder Lynda Mann.

Our 3D ThinkLink training led Kamie’s Freestate classmate Caleb Dujmovic to discover his passion for the field of bio-engineering during a Vocational Orientation tour of the Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland in College Park.

“My group and I were given the opportunity to visit a laboratory there, and witness first-hand the uses of 3D printing outside of the classroom,” Caleb wrote in his essay. “We were given a crash course in how the laboratory creates small bones and blood vessels for the human body.”

Caleb, 18, described his visit to the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab as an “amazing experience” that sparked a “profound interest that I never knew I would have.”

‘This Class Really Opened My Mind’

Michael Foster listens to Dr. David Rocheleau explain how a 3D printing is used at the University of South Carolina Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Michael Foster listens to Dr. David Rocheleau explain how a 3D printing is used at the University of South Carolina Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Michael Foster’s essay made it clear he has taken to heart the message he heard from some of 3D Systems, Inc.’s top executives during his Vocational Orientation tour of the company’s headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C.

“I am the future of 3D printing,” wrote Michael, 17. “I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true; it’s up to me and people like me to pick up the torch and carry this passion to the next creative minds.”

“I believe that this is the place where I put my foot in the door to the future.”

Michael, who aspires to join the military and study photography, said his 3D ThinkLink experience made him realize “we really have no limitations.”

His SCYCA classmate Sherquana Adams also described the training as enlightening.

“This class really opened my mind and eyes to a lot more than I thought I would know. I never knew you could do so many things by just using a computer,” Sherquana, 18, said in her essay.

Sherquana Adams tries on 3D-printed eyeglasses during a visit to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, SC.

Sherquana Adams tries on 3D-printed eyeglasses during a visit to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, SC.

Sherquana, who has a 2-year-old son and wants to become a surgical technician, was intrigued to learn how 3D printing is helping children whose hands are deformed by Amniotic Band Syndrome. Instead of relying on standard artificial limbs that they quickly outgrow, these children can now use simple, plastic “robohands.” The parts are made with a 3D printer and can be scaled up easily as a child grows. Best of all, each hand costs less than $100, compared to tens of thousands for a traditional prosthetic device.

All of our scholarship winners will have the opportunity to create customized robohands and work on other projects to expand their skills during a week of immersion training in our in 3D ThinkLink Lab next month.

This was our second essay competition of 2014. Freestate’s Requan Da Sant won the first contest in June. This time, 13 students from Maryland, South Carolina and DC submitted essays. They were reviewed by our Board of Directors and John Gilstrap, a bestselling author and YouthQuest supporter.

The winners will receive their scholarship money when they become enrolled in a higher education or trade school program.

CLICK HERE to read all four winning essays.

Scholarship-Winning 3D ThinkLink Student Essays

These four students from the 2014 fall-winter class cycle earned $500 scholarships for these essays about their 3D ThinkLink experience.

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Unlocking the Wonders of My World
by Kamie Moody, Age 19
Freestate ChalleNGe Academy

My name is Kamie Moody. I am a cadet of Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Edgewood Maryland. I came to Freestate to take advantage of an opportunity to better my future. Although Freestate is a wonderful program, it can get extremely challenging at times and with the kind of person that I am I was desperate to find an outlet. 3D Printing became that outlet.

Since I was a little girl, I absolutely loved arts and crafts. Anything that allowed me to get my hands dirty and let out my inner creativity, I found alluring. I’ve been a tactile learner for as long as I can remember. I loved to put things together to challenge my mind to build things from scraps and make them into something complete. I was pleased to hear that my case manager recognized these abilities and recommended me for the 3D program. My experience in the program has been better than I could have ever imagined, at no time in my life have I ever thought of myself as capable of making the things that Mr.Meeks and Mrs.Mann have given me the opportunity to make. For that I am truly grateful.

3D Printing has given me a completely new confidence about the way I think when creating. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the best artist, I just have to have the capacity to think outside of the box. Mr.Meeks has always said “The most important part of the process is to learn how to fail.” We as new participants always come up with elaborate designs and because we aren’t as skilled as a professional, it takes us a few tries before we get our desired outcome. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve bitten off more than we could chew, it just means that we have to put in more work to get to our goal. The key is to keep trying.

As one of my favorite singers Aaliyah said in her song “Try Again”, “If at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again.” I’ve had to dust myself off plenty of times before being able to sit back and admire my creation, but I never quit. The feeling I get when I’ve brought to life something that started off as a mere thought in my head is indescribable. My success in 3D has inspired me to continue my quest in life as a designer. I want to bring my vision to life not only for my enjoyment but for the enjoyment of others as well. I truly believe that I have found my gift and with it I plan to leave my mark. As Beyoncé said in her song “I Was Here”, “I want to leave my footprints on the sand of time, know there was something that meant something that I left behind, when I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets, I’ll leave something to remember, so they won’t forget.”

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On the Path to Success
by Caleb Dujmovic, Age 18
Freestate ChalleNGe Academy

This program has been nothing short of an amazing journey, from learning the foundations of creating a 3D object, to learning the many uses of 3d printing outside of the classroom. Along with learning how to print a 3D spaceship or plane, I’ve learned more about interests I never knew I would have. These include the creating of blood vessels, bones, nerves, and skin tissue to the other side of the spectrum that include the creation of weapons; using the simples tools and techniques our teachers have taught us inside of the classroom. Altogether this has done nothing but enlighten me to 3D printing and to what it can offer me.

When it comes to possible careers, this program has peaked my interest in Bio-Engineering, and it all started when we took our trip to the University of Maryland. My group and I were given the opportunity to visit a laboratory there, and witness first-hand the uses of 3D printing outside of the classroom. We were given a crash course in how the laboratory creates small bones and blood vessels for the human body along with the tests they have done up to this point with the blood vessels and bones they have manufactured. They told us the steps they take from the very beginning were: printing a 3D scaffold, using a protein-rich substance called media to duplicate the desired cell that would wrap around the scaffold, and allowing the cell to grow and envelope the scaffold to form either the bone or the blood vessels.  From this point the bone or the blood vessel can be implanted wherever it is needed. From everything I’ve learned from that amazing experience was my profound interest that I never knew I would have of the Bio-Engineering field.

All together the 3D printing program has done wonders for me, from showing me new career fields I may choose, to careers I have found because of this program. I can’t thank Mr. Meeks and Mrs. Mann, and the people that chose me for this program enough. I hope to use what I learned in this program in a future career, or even just for personal use.

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My 3D ThinkLink Life
by Michael Foster, Age 17
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy

My name is Michael Dylan Foster. I am a 17 years old. I live in Florence SC. But I currently attend Youth Challenge Academy where I plan on obtaining my GED and many other opportunities that may be presented to me like the 3D ThinkLink Moment of Inspiration program.

What most people fail to realize is that 3D printing has had an impact in everyone’s daily lives, even if they believe it or not 3D printing is about to make an extraordinary change in the world. Before I truly discovered the amazing capabilities of 3D printing I was one of those people who heard of it but never thought it was anything worth taking interest in. I started the 3D ThinkLink Moment of Inspiration program with the same beliefs. The more and more I learned, the more and more I became fascinated with the idea that whatever you wish to create, you can. There are endless possibilities that derive from the exciting world of three dimensional objects.

3D printing and fashion combined in a harmonious relationship can be so useful and productive by actually printing out clothing and shoes. It can be unimaginably innovative in the medical field by working together to cause people to walk again by giving them a 3D printed exoskeleton. It also operates in synergy with the food service industry to make beautiful works of food. I am the future of 3D printing. I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true; it’s up to me and people like me to pick up the torch and carry this passion to the next creative minds. Every extraordinary person made mistakes and had to overcome obstacles in their paths, that’s what made them extraordinary. “To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is swear off having ideas.” – Leo Burnett.

This experience has taught me so much and made me realize that we really have no limitations. Others have their reasons for taking this class but I believe that this is the place where I put my foot in the door to the future and I know for a fact that there will be many more amazing and unique opportunities for me to come. No matter how hard we try technology will keep moving forward and all we have to do is put in the effort and catch up with it.

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What 3D Printing Has Taught Me
by Sherquana Adams, Age 18
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy

My name is Sherquana Adams I’m from Santee, SC. I have a two year old son, and  I’m currently a Cadet at South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy.

3D printing is changing the world in many ways, but let me tell you how 3D printing has changed my life. The training in this class really opened my mind and eyes to a lot more than I thought I would know. I never knew you could do so many things by just using a computer. I now have a way to express myself by making the things that I have always wanted as a child, but couldn’t afford. I would not make them just for myself, but for people all over the world.

Recently, my class and I took an amazing trip to 3D Systems in Rock Hill, Sc. The trip really made me interested in 3-D printing. I saw so many different 3D printers. The Chef Jet really caught my eye because I love food! 3D printing is really taking over technology.

The child who received a 3D printed hand was very intriguing to me as well.

Anastasia was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, this condition leads to congenital abnormalities. In her case, her left arm ends in a tiny, partial palm and button-like buds of fingers. The doctors thought very hard about how to help her.  ‘’We thought we could finally get a prosthetic device that could allow Anastasia to use fingers to pick up and grab things.’’ I thought this was so amazing how 3-D printing design and built a hand to help her accomplish things more easily.

I think she now feels more confident in herself; she is even playing sports, and now is a cheerleader thanks to her 3D printed Robohand. I really enjoyed this class it affords me the opportunity to gain experience and continuing education in the medical field, which is my career goal. I would like to become a surgical technician.

Thank you for this opportunity.

 

VIDEO: A Year of Growth for YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy students use laptop in 3D ThinkLink class

YouthQuest’s project to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills through 3D design and printing reached 60 at-risk teens from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia in 2014.

This year’s highlights included the participation of students from Maryland’s Freestate and DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Programs in the USA Science and Engineering Festival in April and the first weeklong immersion training at our 3D ThinkLink Lab at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., in August.

Our students also saw how 3D printing is used by industries and universities during Vocational Orientation events at 3D Systems, Prototype Productions, the Maryland NanoCenter and the University of South Carolina Mechanical Engineering Department.

We look forward to further expansion in 2015 with the formal opening of the 3D ThinkLink Lab and the start of 3D printing classes for grade-schoolers at Boys & Girls Club summer camps in Fairfax County, Va.

You can help us change the lives of more at-risk kids by making a contribution to support our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. CLICK HERE to donate online. You can also contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

Vocational Orientation Has 3D Printing Students Thinking About the Future

3D ThinkLink student Matthew Crews from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy talks about 3D printing with Rajeev Kulkarni, , Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Solutions for 3D Systems. at the company's headquarters in Rock Hill, SC, Oct. 23, 2014.

In addition to teaching at-risk teens 3D design and printing, YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative shows them how those skills can take them places they never imagined.

Students from our Maryland and DC classes examine objects created with a Cube 3 printer. at 3D Systems factory in Herndon, Va., Oct. 17, 2014.

Students from our Maryland and DC classes examine objects created with a Cube 3 printer.

“Awesome!”

“Crazy!”

“Mind-Blowing!”

Those were a few of the reactions from the 3D ThinkLink students who toured 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, SC, on Oct. 23. The visit was part of Vocational Orientation for the class from South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

The students were fascinated by the array of advanced 3D printing technologies and products on display. They had lots of questions about the machines 3D Systems makes and job opportunities in the company, which is our strategic partner in this project.

“I got to learn things about 3D printing that I never knew before, like there are ones that use metal powder and certain machines can use up to a million different colors,” said Cadet Matthew Crews, 16.

UMD grad student Tony Melchiorri tells Capital Guardian students how this 3D printer helps him make blood vessel grafts. at Maryland NanoCenter Oct. 17, 2014

UMD grad student Tony Melchiorri tells Capital Guardian students how this 3D printer helps him make blood vessel grafts.

Cadet Crews enthusiastically discussed his interest in 3D printing with Rajeev Kulkarni, Vice President and General Manager of Consumer Solutions, who was just as eager to hear our students’ thoughts about the Cube 2 printers they use in class. Kulkarni also showed them the newly released Cube 3, which future 3D ThinkLink classes will use.

A week earlier, on Oct. 17, students from our classes at Maryland’s Freestate and the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academies, watched Cube 3 printers being assembled at the 3D Systems factory in Herndon, Va.

Those Cadets also saw how 3D printing helps create products for military, medical, automotive and aerospace customers at Prototype Productions, Inc., in Ashburn, Va. At the Maryland NanoCenter’s Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab in College Park, they visited graduate students who are using 3D printing to develop vascular grafts and grow human bone.

Dr. David Rocheleau leads a tour of a mechanical engineering lab at the University of South Carolina during vocational orientation for YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink students from the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy Oct. 23, 2014.

David Rocheleau leads a tour of the University of South Carolina mechanical engineering lab.

The Maryland NanoCenter, PPI and 3D Systems have generously hosted previous Vocational Orientation events. For the first time, we also took the South Carolina students to the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Mechanical Engineering Department Graduate Director David Rocheleau led a tour of several labs where researchers use 3D printing and traditional technologies to test materials. He explained, to the students’ delight, that mechanical engineers spend a lot of their time “trying to break things and blow them up.”

At every stop, our hosts helped the students understand that they’re part of the 3D printing boom. What they’re learning seems novel to most people now, but this technology has the potential to become as commonplace and essential as the personal computer soon.

Thanks to these eye-opening Vocational Orientation experiences, our students now see there are many ways they can be part of building the 3D-printed future.

At-Risk Youth: By the Numbers

Neighborhood teenager (series)

We measure success one child at a time. Every child has a unique story that can’t be told with statistics alone. But these numbers illustrate the risks facing our nation’s youth today.

The latest news about American high school students is good, but not good enough. The on-time graduation rate for the Class of 2012 rose to 80% for the first time, the National Center for Education Statistics reported in April.

The remaining 20% “represents 718,000 young people, among them a sharply disproportionate share of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans,” says Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The graduation rate for the Class of 2012 was 73% for Hispanics, 69% for blacks and 67% for Native Americans, compared to 86% for whites and 88% for Asians. For those with limited English language proficiency, the rate was 59%.

“High school graduation may have once been a finish line, but today it is just a beginning,” says Secretary Duncan.

clockface graphic with 2014 statistics from Children's Defense FundEvery time a teen drops out, we all pay a price. Dropouts drain public resources because they are much more likely than high school graduates to be unemployed, need government aid, abuse alcohol and drugs and be arrested. At least two-thirds of dropouts spend time in jail. On average, dropouts earn about half as much as graduates, so they contribute less to the economy.

Now more than ever, the numbers are stacked against teens who lack the education required to compete in a technology-driven job market.

The YouthQuest Foundation works to keep teens in school and to help those who have dropped out get their lives back on track through academic and vocational training, as well as development of fundamental life skills.

One way we do this is through our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, a unique project that uses 3D design and printing to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills to students who once gave up on school.

YouthQuest believes it is our responsibility, individually and as a society, to see that every American child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.

If you would like to support our mission, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

VIDEO: A Week of Discovery in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Lab

Students in YouthQuest's first 3D ThinkLink Lab immersion training week

The students in our first 3D ThinkLink Lab made up an unlikely team of trailblazers.

Not long ago, they were “going down the wrong path.” They were getting into trouble, giving up on school and feeling like nobody cared about them. Each one made the life-changing decision to enroll in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, where they learned about 3D design and printing in classes provided by the YouthQuest Foundation.

Thirty at-risk teens from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia completed the introductory course in June. From those classes, instructors chose these five young men to attend the first weeklong training session at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., Aug. 4-8.

For South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Joey Clark, it was an “adventurous” week.

“We all come from different places, with different problems,” he said. “You didn’t know what was going to happen. It was a mystery.

“We started printing some stuff out, started having fun and then we all became pretty much brothers.”

The students’ main project for the week was to build a solar-powered walking robot and use 3D printing to customize it. In the process, they learned about creativity, problem solving and teamwork, said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, who was delighted by how quickly the students pulled together.

Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots

Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots

Within hours, the 3D ThinkLink Lab was buzzing with activity as the students helped each other assemble their robot skeletons and troubleshoot problems.

“You really have to think when it comes to 3D printing because your first thing isn’t always going to work,” observed Joey.

He and fellow SCYCA grad Brice Lamb had to think outside the box when they discovered their solar panels wouldn’t produce enough power to make their robots walk. Joey came up with the idea of using a AA battery to run the motor. He worked with Tom to design and print a battery holder that attached to his robot’s back.

That led Brice to experiment with a smaller button-type battery from one of the electronic calipers the students used to take precise measurements.

“This is the kind of problem-solving skill we’re trying to instill in these young people,” said Tom. “We want them to know that when you reach a hurdle, you don’t just stop. You take a look at it, think about it and then come up with a solution to your problem.”

“Doing 3D taught me it’s OK to make mistakes because you can always go back and redo it,” added Jarrod Burley from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

“This has helped me so much,” said Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Daikwon Jones. “It gives you a chance to be yourself. It’s like an artist with a painting.”

The students showed off their creations during the annual VIP reception for YouthQuest’s leading supporters, held at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., on Aug. 7. Getting to meet some of the at-risk youth they’re helping made a powerful impression on our donors.

“They are highly educated, successful, accomplished in their professions,” noted Tom, “yet they didn’t know as much about 3D printing as our students did.”

Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at VIP Reception August 7, 2014

Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at YouthQuest’s VIP Reception

“CEOs, captains of industry, professional athletes, authors… were actually held spellbound,” Capital Guardian Information Systems Manager and 3D ThinkLink instructor Keith Hammond recalled with a smile.

“It made me feel special,” said Brice.

The reception guests were fascinated by 3D printing, added Jarrod, but many they said they didn’t think they’d be able to do it. “When I told them, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to,’ it amazed them,” he said.

Jarrod’s Freestate classmate Rashad Byrd, a sports fan who dreams of playing pro baseball, was amazed that he was able to spend time with two famous athletes in two days. He talked with retired MLB pitcher Pete Schourek about 3D printing – and baseball – at the VIP reception, then got a pep talk on the final day of class from sportscaster Rick ‘Doc’ Walker, who was a member of the Super Bowl XVII Champion Washington Redskins. Both of them played in our charity golf tournament, the Challenge at Trump National, on Aug. 11.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Stay focused on your goals and don’t get distracted,” Doc told the students. “Don’t ever let anyone make fun of you for trying to be successful. Knowledge is the key.”

The first 3D ThinkLink Lab experience was an eye-opener for everyone.

“All week, we’ve been creating stuff. We’ve been expanding our minds.” said Daikwon.

“I never thought I would be telling somebody to not give up and to just keep trying. If you mess up, just start all over again,” said Jarrod.

These five young trailblazers, who have started over and put themselves on the path to a better life, taught us a great deal during the week. Because of what we learned from their experience, we will be able to accomplish even more in the next immersion labs as we acquire more sophisticated 3D printers.

If you would like to help us expand our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@YouthQuestFoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

YouthQuest Golf Tournament Raises Funds to Help At-Risk Youth

Waterfall and clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC

It was a day of fun and fundraising as about 150 golfers, sponsors and volunteers took part in the Challenge at Trump National Aug. 11.

Tournament Committee Chairman Bill Hall hailed the ninth annual event as “another resounding success.”

Golf Entertainer Brad Denton demonstrates putting techniques at the 2014 Challenge at Trump National

Golf Entertainer Brad Denton shows players how to improve their short game

The tournament generated enough money to ensure that we will achieve our goal of opening a 3D printing lab at our headquarters in Chantilly, Va., by the end of this year, according to YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. This is an important step in the growth of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, which helps at-risk teens strengthen their creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

After Golf Entertainer Brad Denton’s demonstration of putting techniques the pros use, the players headed out onto the Championship Course at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC. Thanks to General Manager Det Williams, Director of Golf Kevin Morris, event planner Vicky Kurasz and the rest of the excellent Trump National staff, everything ran smoothly on and off the course.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents Chris Eaton's Volunteer of the Year Award to his mother, Betty Eaton

Betty Eaton with Lynda Mann

The VIP guests assigned to each team included retired Major League Soccer goalkeeper Mike Ammann, pitchers Pete Schourek and Shawn Camp from Major League Baseball, active and retired members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brett Kayes and the always-supportive Washington Redskins alumni.

The day wrapped up with an award ceremony and reception, where Chris Eaton was remembered with a posthumous Volunteer of the Year Award. Chris, who had served as a volunteer at the tournament every year since 2008, suffered a fatal heart attack while competing in a triathlon a week after last year’s Challenge at Trump National. His mother, Betty Eaton, accepted a plaque honoring him during our VIP Reception on Aug. 7.

Joey Darley of Joey’s Smiles Photography and Scene2bSeen received the 2014 Community Partner Award in recognition of his longstanding support for YouthQuest’s mission.

Author John Gilstrap signs a book for tournament volunteer Lou Childs at the 2014 Challenge at Trump National reception Aug. 11

John Gilstrap signs his book End Game for tournament volunteer Lou Childs

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap joined us at both receptions to sign copies of his new thriller, End Game. As part of the live auction at our 2012 wine event, John offered to put the highest bidder in the book.  Ryan and Tre Cage won the bidding and asked John to give the character their mother’s name. So while we know Jolaine Cage as a key YouthQuest volunteer, she’s a highly trained security specialist on the run in End Game.

We’re grateful to Michael Garcia and his staff at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., for hosting the VIP Reception again this year. It was a great opportunity for our supporters to meet some of the young people they’re helping through their contributions to YouthQuest. Five students who were participating in a week of 3D ThinkLink Lab immersion training showed off their creations and told our guests about how they’ve benefited from being involved in our project.

3D ThinkLink Lab student Daikwon Jones explains his solar robot to Joy Gilstrap at YouthQuest's VIP Reception Aug. 7, 2014

Daikwon Jones explains his solar-powered robot to Joy Gilstrap at the VIP Reception

Several new sponsors joined us this year, including Wells Fargo Private Bank, which sponsored Brad Denton’s appearance.

This tournament wouldn’t be possible without the work of our volunteers, led this year by John Bloom. We deeply appreciate the time and effort everyone devoted to making the event a success.

Because of the generosity of our supporters, YouthQuest is doing more than ever to provide academic and vocational development, infrastructure and life-enriching experiences for America’s at-risk youth.

Our next tournament will take place on Monday, August 10, 2015. Sponsors are already signing up and we’re working on plans to make the 10th annual Challenge at Trump National the best one yet.

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