LA is a big place. Dave, our customer service dude, and I visited recently. Los Angeles School district showed interest in our printers, so we were excited to learn more.
Lincoln, CA, where I live and operate Printrbot, is a small-town-feel place with a slow, relaxing pace. LA is different. The schools I deal with here are what you would expect, filled with the products of working class folks and there are few surprises.
LA USD was different. As we walked to the room where I was training IT workers and teachers, I had my first surprise. The kids who would get to use our printers were incarcerated… In jail. This group inside the school district would be the first have an organized initiative exploring 3D printing. I loved the fact that these kids had teachers and staff who not only cared about their education and well being, but they were going an extra mile or twelve to expose them to cutting edge technology. Wild. I was all in.
It got real when one gentle woman asked, “is there anything that could break off?” I get this question sometimes and started into my spiel about maintenance. She stopped me and calmly clarified, “no, I mean, is there anything that they could remove to use as a weapon?”
These folks work in a challenging environment, to be sure. The 3D printing champion in the room was as close to an expert as it gets and was leading the charge to champion our brand as a sturdy, well priced, made-in-America standard to set the bar for those in the district who want to adopt 3D printing. He did his research and is well prepared. They are in good hands.
When I go into a school with a printer, I have an ultra-realistic view of how it will go. My own kids are not really into my little hobby, and there are a lot of young people like that. I get it. But I dream about the moment when a teacher realizes that bringing in a 3D printer has exposed a few kids, even one kid, in his or her class to something akin to magic, and ignited a spark that may change a student’s life. It happens. And it’s awesome.
Somewhere down in LA, in that sprawling city, there is a student sitting behind bars that will find an interest in 3D design and 3D printers and maybe, just maybe, it will open a window in their world and change their life.
I am so proud of the teachers throughout this country and the world who are using 3D printers and the surrounding disciplines to challenge young people to solve problems, learn in new ways, create, make, fix things and discover that they can change their world with their creativity and ingenuity.
To the trail blazers in LAUSD, my hat is off to all of you. Keep up the good work!