Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Education Program Addresses Skills Crisis

Today's guest blog is from Julie Reece, Z Corporation's Director of Marketing Communications.

Z Corporation's EngineeringZONE Introduces New England High School Students to the Wonder of Making Things

Despite persistent high unemployment, technical jobs are hard to fill, and the pipeline of American students to fill them is thin. American businesses often complain about the supply and availability of STEM workers, according to “STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future,” a report from the US Department of Commerce. And it’s bound to get worse. Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs, the report says. STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

To help counter this threat to national competitiveness, Congressman John Tierney (D-Mass.) joined us earlier this week in launching “EngineeringZONE.” ZONE stands for Z Corporation Orienting Novice Engineers. The initiative invites high school classes to visit Z Corp on a monthly basis for an afternoon to experience some of the latest 3D printing and 3D laser scanning technology, increasingly used in the design and engineering world.

Congressman Tierney, the only New England Member on the House Education and Workforce Committee, said, “I applaud Z Corporation’s continued efforts to support our local economy with high tech manufacturing jobs, and it’s most recent initiative to ensure that local students are aware of these new and creative job opportunities. We know that jobs focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics are growing at a faster rate than many other fields and we need to do a better job of engaging our students in these areas. By bringing high school students into Z Corporation for a day of hands-on learning, they will have exposure to careers they may otherwise overlook.”

3D printing, one of the fastest-growing areas of manufacturing, is the creation of three-dimensional physical models from 3D engineering design data much as a document printer creates a business letter from a word-processing file. More and more manufacturers are adopting the process to quickly create physical prototypes and refine designs during every phase of the product development process.

Students in the EngineeringZONE program will try their hand at some introductory computer-aided design (CAD) software and will make their own 3D printed models. Interested high schools should contact Z Corp for more details.

Scott Harmon, Z Corporation vice president of business development added, “We’re thrilled to open our doors to curious students because this is where the magic happens, where you can see a design on a computer screen turn into a physical object before your eyes. In addition to the sizzle, 3D printing brings together all of the disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – that our students so desperately need to master now and in the future. We're honored that Congressman Tierney, was able join us on this important initiative.”

Young scientists and engineers have been using Z Corp 3D printers, called ZPrinters, at thousands of high schools, vocational schools and universities, following the lead of companies like Black & Decker, Cisco Consumer Business Group, New Balance, Timberland and Pixar.

Congressman Tierney visited Z Corporation in support of the announcement, toured our manufacturing facility, and spoke with Z Corp employees. Following are a few photos from his visit.

1 comment:

  1. STEM education advocates observe that it's important for students just beginning high school to understand the value of upper level math and science electives. If they don't take those classes in high school, college engineering departments will be closed to them. Introducing junior high school students--as well as high school students--to the fun of engineering problem solving is one way to encourage them to go for engineering careers and keep the field strong.