Lawrence Tech brings 3D printing technology to local Detroit middle school

Release Date: February 14, 2020
Image Description

The Shuri Doll House was designed by LTU architecture student Austin Hurrell and was created using 3D printers on the campus of Lawrence Tech. Shuri is the tech-savvy character from Marvel Studios' Black Panther.

DETROIT—On Nov. 20, Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy in Detroit held its annual Curriculum Night, which gives parents a chance to see what their children are learning and what is new at the school. This year, Lawrence Technological University’s Marburger STEM Center was in attendance to introduce a new 3D printer to the Sampson community.

The 3D printer, a FlashForge Finder, was donated by LTU’s Marburger STEM Center with funding from the Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions, part of the Michigan Credit Union League. In addition to the printer, Lawrence Tech also donated four laptops to the school. The intent is to incorporate more cutting-edge technology, such as 3D printing, into the classroom to spark excitement about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and design fields to further expand the students’ technological skills. 

Unlike 2D printers, which print on a flat piece of paper, 3D printers use what is known as additive manufacturing to create depth in the final product. Additive manufacturing allows the object to be created by building layer upon layer using some kind materials such as plastic.

Now commonly used in industries such as automotive, aircraft, and dentistry, 3D printing is becoming more universal and can be used to solve real-world problems. For example, 3D printing technology can be used to build parts for homes, and in the medical field to create 3D printed organs, which hold the potential to eliminate the need for organ donor waitlists and immune compatibility. These are the kinds of societal problems that future generations will need to address. Thus, incorporating 3D printing technology into the K-12 curriculum will prepare students and expose to them to technology that they may someday use in their careers.

Besides preparing them for future careers, 3D printing helps students become more innovative and creative problem solvers. K-12 teachers can create hypothetical problems and have students use 3D printing to solve those problems. Art teachers could ask students to design plastic pottery or other 3D art, or create models of famous buildings and works of art. Academic departments that receive little funding for classroom and learning materials, such as anatomical models, could simply create and print their materials for a fraction of the cost. Even the theatre department would be able to create props at a low cost for upcoming plays and musicals.

Overall, the enthusiasm about the new 3D printer on Curriculum Night at Sampson-Webber from students, teachers, and parents was promising. The students already had tons of ideas of objects they plan to create, ranging from model cars to heart-shaped jewelry. Mirroring the students’ excitement, teachers and parents were eager to learn how to use the printer and are looking forward to the Marburger STEM Center’s upcoming workshop at Sampson-Webber, when LTU staff will provide additional 3D printing training. Jacqueline Blakely, PhD an ELA (English Language Arts) teacher at Sampson-Webber said, “We are so excited to receive the 3D printer from Lawrence Tech University. The new learning it will afford our students is limitless.”

The opportunities for learning truly are limitless, as 3D printing can be used in any classroom to supplement any material. Students and teachers alike will gain valuable new skills, and will be able to enjoy the process of creating new things and solving problems together. It will be exciting to see the creative ways that the teachers at Sampson-Webber integrate 3D printing into their curriculum.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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