Community colleges may be in a prime educational position to incorporate 3D printing into the local ecosystem. Students attending community colleges often can’t afford to go immediately into a four-year program, are unsure of what career to pursue or are simply looking to gain skills and associates degrees to better prepare them for the workforce. By connecting with vocational programs that inculcate 3D printing-related skills, community colleges can prepare their students for the job opportunities that may open up within the growing additive manufacturing market. The partnership between Sacramento Hacker Lab and Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technology (CACT) is a case in point.
The Sacramento Hacker Lab in California previously acted as a great place for locals to hatch ideas and execute projects, but was missing a piece of equipment that’s increasingly become essential for any fablab: a 3D printer. Thankfully, their neighborhood community college, CACT, was kind enough to donate a 3D printer, along with some soldering tools, to help the growing Sacramento Maker community. The newly formed relationship between the two institutions has proven to be mutually beneficial.
In addition to printing personal projects, like chess sets, video game characters and parts for turntables and aquaponic systems, Eric Ullrich, the Co-Founder and COO of the Hacker Lab, explained that the newly acquired equipment allows members to work with industry partners:
One of our corporate partners, VSP Global, is using 3D printers to develop new designs.They benefit from collaborating with our community of designers and engineers who use the 3D printers. The soldering kits contributed by CACT are also being used by members who are developing electronics for arcade games and home automation systems. Sierra College has made it possible to give the public access to high-end equipment used in industry.
In order to better accommodate students from the school, Hacker Lab offers discounted memberships, working with college clubs and classrooms.
Willy Duncan, the President of the Sierra College Joint Community College District, sees how such a local resource can benefit the school system, saying, “Deans and faculty across several disciplines have already toured Hacker Lab. Hacker Lab offers students the opportunity to engage with others in a real world environment. They can gain skills and experiences that will propel their education and career plans toward exciting, growing sectors of the economy.”
The Director of CACT, Carol Pepper-Kittredge, sees the hacker space as vital to her students and to the local community as a whole:
Hacker Lab complements community colleges, and working together we can strengthen Sacramento’s regional economy. Students can work all night on a project at Hacker Lab while benefiting from the advice of members with industry experience. Once entrepreneurs are introduced to product development at Hacker Lab, they may want to enroll at community college to gain in-depth skills, certificates and degrees. Businesses may be able to expand their product lines or improve methods as a result of experimentation and interaction with other creative people. Technology and Advanced Manufacturing businesses can benefit from Sierra College’s collaboration with Hacker Lab and ultimately that means more career opportunities for students prepared with in-demand technical skills.
In this way, both Hacker Lab and the community college can grow, while creating a close-knit network of resources in the Sacramento region. Perhaps we might see, as with the Chicago Public Library, hacker spaces becoming a part of the commons, a local resource that serves the local population. All that’s missing from Sacramento, is a local 3D printer manufacturer! With that, they’ll be on the way to a self-sustaining and self-replicating ecosystem.
Source: PR Web