redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online – 3D printing company MakerBot wants to put a desktop 3D printer in every school in America, and is asking teachers and donors to help make the goal a reality through crowdfunding.
The Brooklyn-based company launched its DonorsChoose initiative on Tuesday, a website that allows individuals and businesses to invest in the project, and select which schools they wish to fund. Teachers can also use the website to register for a MakerBot Academy bundle, which includes a printer, three spools of filament (in red, white and blue) and a one-year MakerBot protection plan.
One MakerBot Academy bundle costs around $2,350, with donors contributing the bulk of expenses while classrooms themselves must come up with the remaining $98.
When registering, teachers will need to explain their classroom plans and goals for the printer.
MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis unveiled the project at the company’s Manhattan retail store on Tuesday, saying it was “very personal” for him.
“Having been a former teacher, and being in a position now where I can give back … makes me really emotional,” said Pettis, who taught everything from “music to dance to math, science, social studies, and writing” in the Seattle Public School system. “This is my favorite announcement ever,” he said during an interview withPCMag.com.
Pettis said the inspiration for MakerBot Academy came from this year’s State of the Union address, in which President Obama emphasized the need to keep America at the forefront of the next Industrial Revolution by educating students who will become tomorrow’s innovators, engineers, product designers, architects and artists.
These students could benefit from having 3D printing technology in the classroom, MakerBot said in its announcement.
“3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. We must ensure that the Next Industrial Revolution in manufacturing will happen in America. We can get that done,” Pettis said in a statement.
Pettis said he hopes to see 5,000 schools equipped with MakerBots by the end of the year, and got the ball rolling with a personal pledge to put a Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer in every public high school in Brooklyn.
Ralph Crump, founder of Stratasys, which owns MakerBot, pledged to match Pettis’s donation.
To ensure teachers have meaningful projects for their new 3D printers, MakerBot also launched a week-long design challenge for members of its MakerBot Thingiverse community to quickly develop 3D designs that could be used in classrooms.
The design challenge is running through November 18, and winning selections will be available to teachers as soon as they receive their MakerBot Academy package.
“We need to encourage our teachers and our youth to think differently about manufacturing and innovation,” Pettis said. “MakerBot is manufacturing education in a box.”
Once you have a MakerBot Desktop 3D Printer, “you not only get an introduction in the next-generation of manufacturing, but you learn about supply chain, digital design, you learn about the process of having an idea and making it exist in the world.”
The MakerBot Academy is a partnership between MakerBot, DonorsChoose.org, 3D design software company Autodesk and America Makes. Additional information is available at MakerBot’s website.