Sunday, August 14, 2016

M3D Micro: Critical Anchor for YouthQuest Foundation's Mentoring "Tech Pack"

For the past 4 years, first as a volunteer and now as an employee, I have been working with the YouthQuest Foundation teaching 3D design and printing to at-risk young people.  It quickly became apparent to me that 3D printing is more than simply a fun activity for my students.  For most it is, quite literally, a life changing experience.

Perhaps it is because it is one of the first times they know that they are performing groundbreaking accomplishments among their peers.  Or, it is because they have challenged to do something entirely out of the range of their personal experience and know that they have not only risen to that challenge; but, have done so with excellence.  Or, perhaps it is because they are able to create items that say "You are important to me." to the important people in their lives.

Whatever the reason behind the incredible growth we see in our students, our experience with them has convinced us that introducing 3D design and printing to at-risk students does something very important and special in their lives.

We have tried to extend the benefits of their exposure to 3D design to the hardest working cadets through our one week advanced 3D ThinkLink Lab experience in our Chantilly, Va. facilities.  There they are exposed to professional 3D printers, 3D scanning and organic 3D modeling.  When the lab week is completed, we provide them with notebook computers with 3D design software installed.

But, up to now we have not felt that there was an appropriate 3D printer for them to take back home to continue growing with 3D design and printing.  All that has changed with our evaluation of the M3D Micro 3D printer.  It is low in cost, small, quiet and easy to use, making it a perfect choice for providing our cadets with the means to continue to benefit by having a 3D printer whether at home or college.

But, there is an additional reason why we are so happy to find a 3D printer that we can provide to some of our hardest working students.

The cadets we serve in the Youth Challenge programs, for the most part, are 16 to 19 that have dropped out or been kicked out of traditional schools.  They are very bright individuals that find themselves in a difficult place due to poor choices, not lack of ability.  But, those choices can place some obstacles in their paths.  I know for a fact that some of these cadets would make excellent engineers.  But, getting into the very best engineering schools is very difficult due to their poor past academic performance history.

What is needed is to reach at-risk students BEFORE they get to that point in life where they leave school.  And, we know that mentors are one factor in keeping students from reaching that point.  What better mentor could there be than a cadet that has turned their own life around with 3D design and printing as motivation?     It is something that both of these recent scholarship winners have said they would like to see.  See article

Recent scholarship Winners
The board of YouthQuest has begun an initiative to allow our support partners to participate in the expansion of our work by donating $500 toward what we call the Mentoring Tech Pack that bundles a computer, 3D design software and the M3D Micro 3D printer.   It is our goal that our cadets will take the skills and excitement that they have received through 3D design and printing and pass that along to their neighborhood peers and younger family and friends.  In order to permanently keep a Mentoring Tech Pack, the cadet will be required to demonstrate that they ARE giving back to the community through 3D in several ways.  We expect a lot of them as students and we will expect a lot of them as mentors.  We are certain they will rise to that challenge as well.

Our long-time supporters are as excited as we are about this new initiative.  Here is a LINK that Business Leasing Associates has posted on their web site to let their clients know about our work and our new mentoring initiative.

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