Nucor is the largest steel products manufacturer in the United States with over 25,000 employees across 300 locations.
The Nucor Detailing Center in Norfolk, Nebraska has teamed up with five local school districts to create a program to promote interest in manufacturing and drafting careers in 7th and 8th grade students. Along with its partner schools, the Detailing Center applied for and received the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant. The grant funds of $125,000 are being used to provide the five schools with age-appropriate manufacturing equipment including eleven MakerGear M3-ID printers.
3D printing technology has proven to have a much wider interest at the junior hight level than was ever imagined. Nucor anticipated that there would be a great deal of use of the MakerGear printers by technology related classes, but there has been innovative use of the machines in some unexpected classes. One art teacher has used the MakerGear M3-ID's to turn student's two dimensional contour drawings into three dimensional objects. Special Education teachers are using access to the 3D printers as an incentive for students. Agriculture educators have used 3D printing to show how farm irrigation works and physics teachers are using 3D printed parts to build robotic arms. These educators are incorporating 3D printing into their existing curriculum and all of these examples involve a child replicating the design to manufacture process that is at the hear of careers with Nucor.
As the first year of the Creation Station partnership ended and the initial grant funds were depleted. Nucor, and it's educational partners, looked for ways not only to sustain, but to grow the program. This growth was focused on increasing the number of pieces of equipment, thereby allowing the teachers to have more contact time with their students. Nucor was wiling to provide additional funding, but the schools would also have to source funds to purchase additional hardware. Principals and teachers have commented that once district administrators see the students enthusiastically engaged with the equipment, especially the 3D printers, it is easy to convince them of the value that a makerspace or fab-lab brings to their school.
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