New Paltz 3D printing technician gives first regional training for k-12 educators

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The Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center, home of the nation’s first MakerBot Innovation Lab, has positioned SUNY New Paltz at the center of the burgeoning 3D printing industry, the College continues to seek new ways to introduce the technology to users of all ages.

MIL Instructional Support Technician Aaron Nelson visited the Byram Hills Central School District in Armonk, N.Y. to train middle school teachers preparing to add 3D modelling and printing to their curricula, marking the first time a New Paltz staff member had given such a training at a regional middle or high school.

The training Nelson brought to Byram Hills was modeled after intro courses he’d previously given on campus for interested members of the New Paltz community, but for this first visit to a neighboring school district he had to tailor the class to suit the needs of teachers who will be working with younger students.

“It’s really exciting to see this technology being introduced to students who are 11 and 12 years old,” Nelson said. “Today we’re just getting used to using these tools, and just scratching the surface of what they are capable of. But future generations are going to grow up with 3D printing as a regular part of their lives, and it’s amazing to think about what they will be able to accomplish.”

The arrangement to provide classes at Byram Hills was born out of a conversation that took place at the inaugural ANYthing Conference on additive manufacturing, held on campus in November. At the conference, Nelson joined HVAMC Assistant Director Kat Wilson to lead a workshop on desktop 3D printing. Among the audience members for that session was Andrew Taylor, chief information officer and director of technology at Byram Hills, who later spoke with Nelson about the challenges his district was facing in adding 3D printing to their students’ experience.

“They recently obtained a few 3D printers at Byram Hills, but they didn’t have anyone who could train the faculty on how to use them,” Nelson said. “Andrew asked us if we could spend a day with them to help jump-start their program – walking them through setting up builds, getting a print started and physically maintaining the machines themselves.

“Usually the biggest hurdle in this kind of training is getting someone who’s never used the technology before comfortable using it, comfortable troubleshooting it and, ultimately, comfortable making things, so that’s what we want to focus on most in training local teachers.”

More information about the HVAMC at SUNY New Paltz is available online.