To help his middle and high school STEM teams get more career experience, Huston Middle School science teacher Shaun Reddick decided to think outside of the box.
About 10 years ago, he got in contact with Catalyst Connections, a local consulting and training services firm. They were starting a project that paired schools with manufacturing companies to give kids a taste of what it's like to work in the field.
Since then, the partnership has flourished, and the Burrell STEM team has completed numerous projects with numerous companies — the latest of which is EPD Electronics.
EPD Electronics specializes in the design and manufacturing of electro-mechanical products, and they were looking for a group of students to fix an old 3D printer they had lying around in pieces. Mr. Reddick knew his students would be perfect for the job.
"They wanted the printer to be printing something so they could show off to clients a little bit," said Mr. Reddick. "Our job was to come up with an item that the 3D printer could print in under an hour since most meetings last an hour or less. We had to design it, make it, and of course, repair the 3D printer."
Mr. Reddick and his students determined the 3D printer wasn't working because it had some bad pieces. After replacing these, students also repaired a robotic arm that attaches to the printer and lifts the printed object from the deck.
Next, students had to propose their idea to the company — a coaster with the EPD logo that could print in 45 minutes.
"EPD was beside themselves with excitement," said Mr. Reddick. "They were all really impressed with the presentation, the ideas, and how we attacked the problem."
In fact, EPD loved the idea so much, they plan on partnering with the team again in the future.
"Our kids do really good work," said Mr. Reddick.