Thoreau, NM – For the past two weeks Navajo Technical University’s Key’ah Advanced Rural Manufacturing Alliance (KARMA) hosted a 3D printing summer camp for Thoreau, Crownpoint, and Rehoboth middle school and high school students in hopes of cultivating youth innovation through 3D printing technology. This is the second year KARMA has hosted the camp and it is the first year it was held at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission School in Thoreau, NM.
The camp was established in 2017 with the intent to introduce 3D printing technology to the next generation of innovators and to encourage young students to think about different careers paths in the industry of advance manufacturing. The introduction process included learning 3D modeling software and engaging in hands-on learning so students could familiarize themselves with the machines and technology.
“When they come in, they have no idea what they can do,” explained Tex Yazzie, camp director and middle school director for St. Bonaventure. “But they gain the confidence, the know how, and they can use that not only now, but in the future.” After successfully completing the camp, Yazzie explained that students are capable of modeling designs within the software TinkerCAD, and are able to operate 3D printers where they can bring their designs to life. Building competency with the technology is one of the main goals of the camp because it sets the foundation for creation, allowing students the opportunity to understand the potential of what can be accomplished through advanced manufacturing and 3D printing.
“Advanced manufacturing is a growing industry,” stated Yazzie, who had students work together in designing and printing a keychain, a cell phone case, and rocket over the course of a week. “These kids are at that age we’re they’re going to run it and make it better. We’re trying to emphasize to them this is the future. This is where we’re going now.”
Students who attended the 3D Camp will take the knowledge they learned and bring it back to their school for the new year. For partaking in the camp, each participating school will be given a MakerBot Mini Plus printer, where they will incorporate the technology into their curriculum. The printer will allow each school to continue what was taught at the camp, but they will also have the opportunity to help students to prepare for KARMA’s annual Innoventure Product Challenge in April.
This year’s Product Challenge tasked students from St. Michaels Indian School, Little Singer Community School, and Crownpoint Middle and High School to design and print a 3D prototype of a Navajo Head Start toy. The event turned out several unique creations, including Navajo-themed chess pieces, a model of the Navajo Nation and it’s four sacred mountains, and a toy featuring a young wooly rider. KARMA program director Dr. Benjamin Jones was pleased with the event and touted its ability to showcase student creativity and innovation.
“Given that this is the first ever K-12 School 3D Product Challenge competition on the Navajo Nation, both the middle and high students were exceptional in their creativity, design and innovation of prototyping a Navajo Headstart Educational Toy,” stated Dr. Jones, who required participants to also give a business presentation on what they created. “The future is bright for this industry.”
By introducing advance manufacturing concepts through events like the 3D printing summer camp and the Product Challenge, KARMA is hoping to foster an advanced manufacturing market on the Navajo Nation that could lead to future job growth. It is also hoping it will spark an interest in the younger generation in 3D technology, which Yazzie was pleased to see at the 3D camp.
“Our youth are very smart, and I’m very proud of all of them,” Yazzie stated. “They don’t realize what their potential is until someone shows them the light and they take it and grow. I grew up in this area with very little. To see this opportunity is available to them now is amazing. The sky’s the limit.” For more information about KARMA or the 3D Printing Summer Camp event, please contact Lavern Moore firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 505.905.7813