US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker meets with students at the RAPID Conference who will benefit from the M.Lab21 Initiative.
The 3D printer manufacturer and 3D technology pioneer's M.Lab21 scheme seeks to bring school workshops into the 21st century with cutting-edge equipment. The pilot for this scheme intends to reach some 200 schools in the SME network, offering educators the chance to transform how they teach design, technology and the sciences.
3D Systems is providing the starter kits for participating schools, which feature the latest in 3D design and 3D printing technology, including the Sense 3D scanner, the Touch haptic and prosumer desktop 3D printers, in addition to a suite of Cubify 3D design software. The SME will work alongside industry experts in order to examine the knowledge and skills necessary for the next generation of the workforce and to develop the curriculum based on their findings.
The project will also feature an online resource for students, teachers and prospective employers, allowing them to connect directly with lesson plans and skills requirements. This network is aimed at boosting healthy competition between schools and has the potential to transform industrial arts and vocational education in the US.
It is hoped that by mid-summer 2014, the M.Lab21 project will have secured eight industry advisers who can provide leadership and guidance to drive the scheme forward. Along with the SME, 3D Systems is looking to broaden support and participation throughout industry in order to build and deliver the theory, equipment and software necessary for a smooth-running 21st-century workshop.
President and CEO of 3D Systems Avi Reichental commented: "M.Lab 21 goes beyond solely putting a 3D printer in a classroom. Our initiative is about revolutionising tech and vocational education by giving students access to an innovative and integrated set of 21st century tools and technology.
"M.Lab21 aims to support what the manufacturing industry has been calling for - to ‘rebrand’ manufacturing, connect industry and academia, narrow the skills gap and accelerate innovation."
Speaking at the Big M Convergence event in Detroit this week (June 10th), US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said: "This new initiative is exactly the type of programme that will help prepare students to compete in the 21st century. Too many young people still do not understand that a career in manufacturing can be challenging, rewarding, and noble way to earn a good living. By connecting manufacturers directly with schools, we can work to change these perceptions and get students excited about the manufacturing jobs of the future."
Chief Executive Officer of the SME Dennis Bray added his enthusiasm to the Secretary of Commerce's by saying the partnership will bring about a "comprehensive approach" for combining a hands-on learning experience with an advanced curriculum to benefit the next generation using 3D printing technology.
M.Lab21 is the latest in a string of commitments the SME and 3D Systems have made collaboratively. Both organisations are welcoming teachers, educators, non-profit businesses and companies passionate about education to join the M.Lab21 initiative and help support innovation and technology learning.