AMR

Tennessee School District Fires Computer Tech Over Improper Use of 3D Printer

Share this Article

As the 3D printing industry continues to grow, so will its user base.  Just like in any other industry with consumer applications, 3D printing can be used for good or for… well, less good.

3d-Printing-EDU-Infographic

3D Printing can be valuable in classroom situations

As many schools around the country have shown recently, 3D printers have amazing potential for students and teachers alike.  The learning applications are almost endless, and students as young as  elementary age are gaining access to cutting-edge technologies that will keep them at the forefront of their age group.  As with any technology in use around students, careful monitoring of both technical operation and the ultimate applications (and objects printed) is always necessary…

Sometimes, though, it’s the adults who can’t resist temptation.

Tuckers Crossroads School has its own 3D printer, which a teacher at the school won at a conference earlier in the school year.  The school, in the Wilson County School District in Tennessee, had to let one of its employees go this week due to misuse of school property.

Sometime in the last month, computer technician Michael Hughes — who had been with Wilson County Schools for about six years — used the school’s 3D printer to create an inoperable part of a paintball gun.Michael Hughes

It fell to Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall to discipline Hughes.  The two met on the afternoon of Friday, October 10, to discuss the incident; Hughes received a letter of termination on Monday, following the meeting.  Hall had been informed of the incident by Hughes’ supervisor, who had received information from within the department. The Friday meeting was a follow-up to the completed incident investigation.

“It was an unfortunate situation and an unfortunate lapse in judgment we had to deal with,” Hall said. “We took appropriate action under the circumstances.”

Using school property to create parts, whether operable or not, for a weapon — even a paintball gun, which typically is used for innocent sport and recreation — demonstrated ethics not in keeping with the school district’s zero-tolerance policy.

“We just can’t tolerate that type of behavior based on what the equipment was used for.”

Hughes’ dismissal signals a key moment in the widening consumer availability of 3D printing.  While news of 3D printed guns continues to emerge, this is one of the earliest incidents relating directly to a school.  Zero-tolerance policies aren’t new, but their umbrella will continue to stretch out as lists of contraband items expand to encompass items that can be created on 3D printers.

A paintball gun with 3D printed components - Images: https://freshprints3d.com/

A paintball gun with 3D printed components – Image: https://freshprints3d.com/

These policies are not without their controversy, however; while most people will agree that keeping weapons out of schools is a no brainer, the definition of what constitutes a weapon may be more open to interpretation.  A small sample of responses to Hughes’ termination gathered from the Facebook page of the local news site that reported it, illustrates that many community members think the printing of an inoperable component of a paintball gun was not sufficient cause for dismissal.  Let’s hear your thoughts on this story.  Should Michael Hughes have been terminated?  Discuss in the ‘Tech Fired for Misuse” forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Images: https://freshprints3d.com/]

Share this Article


Recent News

Al Arkan to 3D Print in Saudi and Beyond, Interview with Tarek Alhalabi

Motorola and Red Wolf Technology Create 3D Printed Part Library for Cell Phones



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

Printing Money Episode 14: Manufacturing Markets and 3D Printing Deals, with AMT’s Chris Chidzik & Dayton Horvath

For Printing Money’s first episode in 2024, Danny is joined by returning guest Dayton Horvath, Director of Emerging Technology at AMT, and by Dayton’s colleague, Chris Chidzik, Principal Economist at AMT. ...

Featured

CORE Offers to Buy 3D Printing Service Fathom Amid Economic Downturn

Fathom Digital Manufacturing Corp. (NYSE: FATH), a player in the on-demand digital manufacturing sector, received a non-binding acquisition proposal from CORE Industrial Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm that played...

CORE Industrial Partners’ 3D Printing Buying Spree Continues with New Acquisition

CORE Industrial Partners completes its eleventh 3D printing firm acquisition in less than five years. Headquartered in Chicago, this private equity firm continues to focus on acquiring manufacturing, industrial technology,...

3D Printing News Briefs, December 15, 2022: 4D Printing, On-Demand Manufacturing, & More

We’re starting out with research in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, as a Purdue University team is adding a fourth dimension to 3D printing. Then we move on to business,...