Because Texas is indeed the ‘Heart of Manufacturing,’ that is the theme for this year’s HOUSTEX Student Summit, sponsored by SME, which endeavors to introduce area high school students to smethe merits of a variety of careers in manufacturing, with a focus on 3D printing.

Inviting Houston-area high school students to attend and participate, SME is again coordinating their Wind Turbine Challenge — a fun, interactive project which encourages students to use all the STEM curriculum skills (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to design and test their projects, which are 3D printed.

9746_HOUSTEX2015_Banner_Ad_300x100Held during SME’s HOUSTEX trade show next month, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, area students will have the chance to win turbine stands that are worth $600, to be displayed at their schools. For the project, they are challenged to design their own examples of the alternative energy wind turbines.

While offering competition for some of the best and bright area minds, the challenge program is smart and positive in its own right as it incorporates a fun way to learn about uses for 3D printing, garners enthusiasm for and interest in career goals for manufacturing, and focuses on teaching students how alternative energy sources are designed, and how they work. Kids get to jump right in and see how they can make an immediate difference with alternative energy — and if they win, they will be taking it back to school with them, fostering attention through their entire school.

Number one in the region for manufacturing and employing people in jobs pertaining to industrial products, over 250,000 individuals are employed in Houston’s industrial and manufacturing sector. And it’s apparent they have and will continue to have a lot of empty seats to fill, as qualified professionals are difficult to find with the required skill sets. The organization states that many hundreds of thousands of jobs will be available in machinist positions, as well as welding, mechanic, and engineering jobs. The summit is an opportunity to highlight what needs and requirements are emerging in the future workforce, as well as giving students an idea of what the career opportunities for them are.

For the challenge they are asked to create their own blades for the wind turbines, including:

  • Height
  • Length
  • Angle
  • Number of blades

The turbines will be 3D printed on the spot for the students, at the trade show. Each turbine will then be tested in a virtual wind tunnel, with the goal being to see who can produce the turbine with the most RPMs.

“The Student Summit is an excellent platform for the next-generation workforce to meet the region’s many manufacturing companies that are actively looking to engage the students of today to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Pam Hurt, senior manager, SME Education Foundation. “There are so many career opportunities in manufacturing right now, with a vital need to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years. These students will be able to network with industry experts who can help them take their STEM education and put it into practice with rewarding careers in manufacturing.”

SME_VirtualWindTurbineChallenge_StudentPhotoEnergy is a major topic at the trade show, as Texas is most famously known worldwide as a major player in oil and gas. HOUSTEX will offer an extensive presentation regarding energy and its future worldwide in manufacturing — with a special focus on and highlight of 3D printing and progressive new technology which is impacting a wide range of sectors today.

In a three-day presentation led by Todd Grimm, president of T.A. Grimm & Associates, the series discusses the strategies and usefulness for 3D printing in the oil and gas sector. The presentation is also geared toward helping companies map out a strategy for incorporating the technology depending on their needs and client bases.

Event-goers at HOUSTEX enjoy the benefits of seeing what new products are being offered by the some of the big names in technology and manufacturing. It’s reported that nearly a hundred new products will be shown off by major companies who will have booths in the 105,000-square-foot display area.

“With more than 200 exhibiting companies on the show floor this year, attendees will have a great opportunity to evaluate, network and create new cost saving connections,” said Cathy Kowalewicz, HOUSTEX event manager at SME. “This year’s HOUSTEX show will be the largest in its history, and is an optimal way to see, touch and experience the latest products and technological innovations in advanced manufacturing today.”

With the advent of digital design and 3D printing, the manufacturing world is being transformed, and students are given a glimpse into what changes are occurring, as well as receiving the chance to see the technology in action with a hands-on project. Students will have an opportunity at the summit for a quick immersion into the opportunities available, and will also have the chance to hear from and chat with those in the industry who are experienced, accomplished role models.

Have you designed any 3D printed engineering projects similar to this, or do you have a concept for one? Will you be attending HOUSTEX? Share with us in the HOUSTEX 2015 Student Summit 3D Printing Challenge forum at 3DPB.com.

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