3D printed zero gravity scale (left) and zero gravity mixer (right)

3D printed zero gravity scale (left) and zero gravity mixer (right)

It really bothers me when I hear anyone questioning the benefits of bringing 3D printing into our educational systems. There is so much potential out there when the students who make up tomorrow’s workforce are introduced to a technology that undoubtedly will play a crucial role in the future of manufacturing, medicine, and robotics, among other things. 3D printing will have a future in just about all industries, and school-aged children and adolescents should be provided with the educational tools needed to succeed in this upcoming reality.

AET Labs (Advanced Educational Technologies) gets it, and so does Stratasys. Recently the two companies showcased just what 3D printing can do when it gets in the hands of the right students. As part of the Extreme Redesign Challenge, which is an international competition where students are asked to take and modify an existing design and make it better, several very unique and intuitive innovations were born.

“What we [AET Labs] are doing here in the New England area is creating a regional semifinals to acknowledge all the students and the great work they’ve done,” explains Dave Kempskie, President of AET Labs. “This regional event brings the students together, making it a more intimate event, and we award prizes to the top finalists. The participation this year has increased by rate of about 30% — with over 50 submissions. We have a good representation of schools throughout the New England area — Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.”

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With so many entrants, it was certainly difficult for judges to choose the winners. Coming in first place was a student from Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, MA, named Thomas M. He participated in the HUNCH program (High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) to develop and 3D print a zero gravity scale that can measure the mass of objects in outer space, using centrifugal force in order to simulate Earth’s gravity. Printed on a Stratasys 3D printer, it was quite the masterpiece.

The runner up was another HUNCH Program participant named Josh F., also from Tri-County Regional Vocational School. He developed a zero gravity mixer that allows for the mixing of multiple materials in zero gravity conditions.

aet-shovelAs for second place, two students from Tantasqua Regional High School in Sturbridge, MA, named Ryan and Sam, took home the prize. They developed a snow shovel aimed at making the difficult winter-time process of shoveling snow much easier, while also preventing users from developing back problems. The handle, which was 3D printed, is completely adjustable to account for left or right handedness, as well as for the height of its user.

There were many other creations fabricated using 3D printing technology as well, including ski pole hooks, an intuitive 3D printed puzzle, a track spike key for screwing spikes into shoes, an engineers’ block, and more.

In all, there were many incredible creations, fabricated mostly with 3D printing technology. Let us know what you think about these creations as well as your take on introducting students to the benefits of 3D printing, in the AET Labs forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out some more of these designs below.

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aet-engineers-block

aet-ski-hooks

aet-puzzle

aet-trackspike

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