GE Additive, a subsidiary of American conglomerate General Electric (GE), set up the program in 2017 with plans of investing a total of $10 million over five years in educational programs for 3D printing. The program was initially set up for primary and secondary schools as well as universities and colleges.
Since then, the AEP has now donated over 1,400 3D printers to 1,000 schools in 30 countries, giving more than 500,000 students access to 3D printing. Now in its third year running, GE Additive plans to focus solely on delivering 3D printing technology to primary schools, omitting universities and colleges from the program. As such, the company has decided to launch the “Anything Factory” initiative.
“An inquisitive student, discovering additive for the first time, formed the heart of our recent ‘Anything Factory’ brand campaign,” explains Jason Oliver, President and CEO of GE Additive. “The purpose of our education program is to create moments like that, to inspire students like her, in classrooms all around the world.”
“The sooner we put additive technology in the hands of the next generation of engineers, materials scientists and chemists, the sooner we can realize its potential.”
Providing schools with access to 3D printing
GE Additive’s AEP is aimed at providing primary and secondary schools with desktop 3D printers and packages. Priority for these packages is given to schools strongly committed to STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) programs.
As part of the packages, the selected primary and secondary schools will also join the Polar Cloud, an online platform that aims to build an ecosystem for 3D printing in education by networking students, machines and content. The Polar Cloud will give educators and students access to a Polar Cloud premium account; a Polar Cloud enabled 3D printer from Dremel, Flashforge or Monoprice; and rolls of filament. Also awarded in the packages, and new for the 2019/2020 cycle, are a range of learning and Tinkercad software resources from Autodesk.
A second investment is usually allotted for higher education, with the program having provided colleges and universities with metal 3D printers over the last two years. Oliver states that, having already established working relationships with universities and colleges, GE Additive plans to channel its support directly towards primary and secondary schools instead for 2019: “This year’s education program will focus only on primary and secondary schools. The original purpose of our program is to accelerate awareness and education of 3D printing among students – building a pipeline of talent that understands 3D design and printing when they enter the workplace.”
“We already enjoy some wonderful working relationships with universities and colleges, so this year we have decided to focus our efforts on younger students.”
Any schools seeking to receive an AEP 3D printer package from GE may submit an application, which will be assessed against specific criteria. The deadline for applications is Monday 1 April 2019.
The GE Additive Education Program in previous years
In the previous years when universities and colleges were included in the program, GE Additive awarded five Mlab cusing 200R direct metal laser melting (DMLM) 3D printers to universities in the Republic of Ireland, Germany and the U.S. A further eight colleges and universities across the U.S. and Australia received a Concept Laser MLAB100R metal additive manufacturing system in 2017.
Featured image shows a student from the GE Additive Education Program, now open for entries from primary and secondary schools. Photo via GE Additive.