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WA District Redefines Vocational Training with 3D Design

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Lakewood, WA's Clover Park School District is immersing students as young as elementary school in advanced technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D modeling and 3D printing to raise the bar for K-12 technical education.

The 12,000-student district is founding much of the mainly middle and high school program on various offerings from SolidWorks (Concord, MA):

  • Students use NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to capture objects.
  • They use SolidWorks Education Edition 3D CAD software to enhance scanned objects.
  • Once something is designed, students output them using a Z Corporation 3D printer.

"Capturing, processing, and printing 3D data -- it's important to take the design process full circle," said Paul Warrick, the district's career and technology education director, in a prepared statement. "A design is just lines and arcs on a screen until you actually make something relevant. Until students hold their creation in their hands and interact with it, it doesn't really exist to them. Once it's printed, they gain the understanding and appreciation that, yes, they can design potentially useful products, not just pretend to on a computer screen."

So far, students have developed custom wheels for remote control cars, fixtures for recharging mobile phones and "high concept pencil holders." At the high school level, students have also used COSMOSXpress design analysis software to test designs of balsa wood bridges under stress. The program has already helped one student secure a state-funded scholarship covering tuition and expenses for two years of post-secondary education.

At the elementary school level, students are learning basic design by using SolidWorks' Cosmic Blobs 3D graphics software to sculpt, decorate, and animate 3D computer models.

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About the author: David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and editor, and can be reached at david@prooferati.com.

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About the Author

David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and marketing consultant, and can be reached at david@dkcopy.com.

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