Over the past decade MCPS like other school districts across the US has been dismantling shop rooms as schools focus more on testing and college prep. However, the need to for experienced advanced fabricators is growing. Communities across the US are starting to feel the impact of this skills gap and are working with private industry to create a pipeline of people with the knowledge they need to make things. Just today, GE purchased two of the world’s leading metal additive manufacturing companies and announced thei need to grow domestic manufacturing capacity. (both of these companies were in Europe) It is for this reason the Walt Whitman Robotics team plans to upgrade the Walt Whitman High School shop room with new equipment. and start and advanced fabrication program. The goal will be to teach 50+ kids a year how to do CAD design, CAM design, additive manufacturing, circuit board printing, advanced CNC manufacturing and how to use a variety of industrial lasers. This will be open to students at every level and STEM sports teams across the county.
The program will do much more than showing kids how to use a vinyl cutter. We want to teach students that their ideas can be transformed into marketable commodities. One example from similar program in California;
“They designed really cool ornaments for the holidays and we sold more than a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff. We just put together a coaster set for a local microbrewery. We’ve got a tremendous community of artistic people and small businesses that I’m sure would be willing to do what the brewery did. The kids have to go to the business and make the pitch and figure out what the cost would be by doing an analysis of material and time and all the other costs. I’m talking with a finance teacher we have to set this up as a business class on student enterprise, with real outcomes.” http://time.com/3849501/why-schools-need-to-bring-back-shop-class/
We are going to be looking for community donated materials, equipment, cash, and expertise to get this program off the ground. If you are interested in helping build the next generation, please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org, we can use all the help we can get.