The Community Corps, NPower’s skills-based volunteering program partnered with 3D Heights, a digital print shop located in Manhattan’s Washington Heights to give New York City public high school students a real-world experience with 3D printing and its countless applications.
Nearly forty high school students from the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, the NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies and the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction had a blast using the latest state-of-the-art 3D equipment at 3D Heights, an NYC-based full-service 3D-scanning and printing store located in Upper Manhattan. Students came away with a better understanding of how this cutting edge technology is poised for explosive growth.

The Community Corps, NPower’s skill-based volunteering program, created a customized Careers in Technology site visit (field trip if you will) with one of our corporate partners, 3D Heights. , the only physical 3D printing store in New York City. Working in collaboration with our partner Digital Ready, a program of the New York Department of Education, we connected 3D Heights with young technology students for an interactive presentation. The workshop provided the students with a hands-on opportunity to learn about this innovative technology and all of its applications. 3D Heights not only demonstrated how to use 3D printers, but also discussed the development and current state of the technology and the industry. They explained the various applications for the technology, as well as where future developments are likely to lead. To finish off the presentation, 3D Heights discussed potential career paths in 3D printing.

In the morning, Mr. Castanos delivered a multi-media presentation revealing the real-world applications of 3D printing. Then, students got the chance to split into teams and experience first-hand how the technology works. Together, they utilized the web-based interface with Tynker CAD and designed their own 3D printing button using cylinders. They also used the hand-held scanners and other equipment to gain an idea of the actual machine functions, and even got the opportunity to scan and process their own faces. “This technology is part of the future,” said Brianna Harrison, Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction student. “You can use it for organs to benefit the sick, for architecture and every career path. It’s really amazing. When you’re on this field trip, you get the information, but you can also ask questions. You really get to experience it and know what you want to do in the future.”

3D Heights’ founder, Mr. Castanos is a serial entrepreneur who developed a passion for 3D-printing (3DP) during his time in the Army working in logistics and defense contracting. He truly captivated the students’ attention as he described his journey from military service to being an entrepreneur. During his interaction with the students, Mr. Castanos spoke of the various business ventures in which he engaged while overseas, some of which were not successful. Rather than cautioning the students to be careful about taking business risks, he encouraged them not to be afraid of failure, but to use the vast information and technology resources available to them to explore innovative ideas and solutions to difficult problems such as food insecurity and global warming.

Jerry included a career development segment to outline both his advice as a professional in the industry and as a business owner. After talking about his own career path, Jerry explained the skills that students will need to develop to work in the industry. He discussed both sides of the industry, informing the students about the skills and education needed both to create and use the equipment. He also included what skills and education level he personally looks for when hiring in his shop, providing the students with a well-rounded view of what is required to follow 3D printing as a potential career path. 3D Heights owner explained the importance of the hands-on workshop: ‘I think it’s incredibly important to get them out of the classroom, there’s a huge boom of technology and there has always been a lot of innovation in NYC, and for the kids to see it hands-on gives them an idea of what they’re studying for, lots of times the kids might not see the purpose of it, and showing them firsthand might give them the proper motivation.’

At the end of the talk, the students commented that they were very grateful for the information they obtained from Jerry and that it made them feel good that he did not undermine their intellectual capacity by “talking down” to them, but related to them respectfully throughout the entire interaction.

Join The Community Corps to Host a Careers in Tech Site Visit.

Laurence Chertoff