Huddersfield University, in West Yorkshire England, regularly rubs shoulders with celebrity. Founded as the Young Men’s Mental Improvement Society in 1841, it has as its current chancellor, the inimitable Sir Patrick Stewart and counts Prince Andrew, Duke of York, among its many patrons. Now, as a partner in the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards (IDEA) it is finding itself rubbing elbows with Will.i.am, singer for the Black Eyed Peas and a music producer with impressive experience.
The IDEA program is a pilot project designed to support rising entrepreneurs by granting them £150,000 (approximately $257,000) to invest in their business. This initial offering will be awarded to 1,000 young people to help them bring their business plans to life. And these aren’t just any business plans: all of the proposed plans center on the use of 3D technologies.
The awardees were given access to Huddersfield’s 3M Buckley Center, a space that was created to advance partnerships between the university and business. Some of its primary services are in the arena of 3D printing, which they currently offer in nylon and alumide materials, as well as post print dyeing. In addition, they offer access to high-end workstations and modeling software and the latest in high-definition projection facilities.
The pieces produced by the recipients at the 3M Buckley Center were showcased at London’s Barbican and was well received. In fact, some people were so impressed they requested that the objects become part of the Barbican’s permanent collection.
Vice-Chancellor of Huddersfield, Professor Bob Cryan described the university’s additional role in the program:
“We were asked to come up with a 3D image of a musical globe, symbolizing the importance of music technology around the world…We were delighted to help and I am sure the 3D work we are pioneering will continue to have a key role to play.”
Will.i.am is a familiar face in the philanthropy world as well, and is particularly well known for his belief in the power of science and technology education as a pathway for young people from impoverished circumstances. He already provides funding for an i.am scholarship to help those with the desire to do so, to complete their secondary education. In addition, his foundation has worked to create an i.am.STEAM initiative in conjunction with Discovery Education to provide underserved children with access to extracurricular learning opportunities.
In a recent interview, Will.i.am discussed his ongoing commitment to philanthropy:
“I never thought that when I was in the ghetto that one day I would meet the prince of England and give him $1 million bucks for his foundation. I thought ‘Get outta here!’…I wanted to donate this money so if there is a kid somewhere in the ghetto or underserved community in London, people just like me, instead of tell he or she to play sports, let’s encourage them to do science of mathematics.”
The increasing pervasiveness of 3D technologies combined with the projected shortfalls of people ready to work in the creative industries makes this an excellent opportunity to help people rise above their circumstances and significantly broadens the pathways out of poverty. Not only are private foundations and institutions of education supporting these initiatives, but they are garnering support from governments around the world and can truly be counted as a modern day industrial revolution.
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