ShopBot Training, Aug 2014: Life Long Learning

In TJ’s training at ShopBot this past week, of the 10 entities represented, 6 were involved in education in some form or another. Another 3 were “life long learners” with the idea of using their new ShopBots  in a career change because they had been laid off from their old job, or were creating a career after retirement from another life. And one group was an example of ShopBot being used in the real world.

First, the Educators:

JR and MC are from Missouri and Arkansas, respectively. They both inherited ShopBot PRTs from teachers, and came to training to learn how to use the resources they already had in their schools.  Both tools will be upgraded to current standards, and new CAD software updated to make it easier for their students.  One High School is adding a Project Lead the Way (more engineering based) curriculum to their existing vocational program, and the ShopBot will be the center piece that will turn the kids’ ideas into reality. (They exchanged cards and will work together this year, since they are relatively close to each other.)  MC said he had learned a lot on his own, but sitting through the training had taught him many tips and tricks it would have taken him hours to find out on his own.

TR from Ohio has been a Project Lead the Way teacher for 5 years.  The school has a 3D printer and a laser cutter, and hopes to add a 4×4 ShopBot to their arsenal this fall.  PLTW uses Inventor as their software, and he finds that the kids can render on the screen, but not see their designs come to life.  He is excited that the same .stl from Inventor can be printed on the 3D printer…but slowly, and the result is small and in plastic, and on the ShopBot…but scaled larger and many more materials. The ShopBot will machine wood, plastics such as HDPE, and soft metals such as aluminum.

DH from North Carolina has dual purposes.  His students in the cabinet making program can not only cut out their parts…with arcs and curves, and not just straight lines, but also create 3D designs on the panels.  In addition, he has started another program with the engineering, architecture and design students. In a multidisciplinary Sustainability program, he can expand their work from 3D printers (small and plastic, again) to something larger and in more materials.

JS, from Illinois, is learning more about using his school’s Desktop so he can step in when and if  the current teacher moves on.  His school is thinking ahead by creating a way for the knowledge of one teacher to be sustained.

Finally,  SdM came the longest way, from Brussels. He has been involved in the FabLab network, and met Sallye at the Fab10 conference in Barcelona this summer. S has set up two Fab Labs (digital fabrication laboratories), one at the university level, and one at a high school level. He is also working with a colleague to introduce Digital Fabrication to elementary school aged children.  S is traveling the US to visit the manufacturers of Digital Fabrication equipment (3D printer, laser cutter, ShopBot) so he can become a Fab Lab guru, and train others to use and set up Fab Labs. Look for links and posts on this website.

Next, the Life Long Learners

DR has 16 years of experience with the furniture industry, but was laid off when the factory in VA closed. He and his wife, S,  and son run a small facility, and he has just bought a Buddy to help in the process.  He left the training with a sample of a typical project and a smile on his face that he would be able to start right up with his Buddy when it arrives next week.

GC had a long career in event management around the world, and has retired back to NC to pursue his interest in woodworking.   He has received a huge number of orders for a product that would take him a long while with a standard router.  But, with his new Desktop, and the skills he picked up at the training, he is set to fulfill those orders in a timely manner.

HF is a traditional woodworking who, before he came to training, did not know the difference between a left mouse click and a right mouse click…or a double click.  But his skill in woodworking and his desire powered him through the training. (ShopBot did have  someone sit with him at the beginning to guide him until he caught on.) He left with a plan that will make his projects easier to complete.  By the way, I cannot give out ages, but HF definitely has silver hair.

Finally, ShopBot in Manufacturing

Even though we are on the 100kSchools website, we must remember that one of the goals of education is to have a skill that one can turn into a career when finished school.  The final entity at the training was a company that started out making buckets, and has expanded to other wood products.  The company sent two people to training to be prepared for when their new ShopBot arrives in the next couple of weeks. CAD (computer-aided-design) was an important component of their training, since they are often given a design on a napkin that has to be prototyped on screen or in reality before the wholesale order can be completed.  Sometimes, they get a real CAD model, so they also had a chance to learn how to bring it in and set up the toolpaths in CAM.

There are many  training videos on the main ShopBot website, and TJ does on line trainings a couple times a month.  Check out the events page on the main ShopBot site for a calendar of trainings and other interesting goings-on where you can see a ShopBot in action.

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