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YSU STEM Graduate Student Encourages Kids to Explore 3D Printing

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Recently, President Barack Obama announced that The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Los Angeles would be the ninth manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama Administration. Among the other hubs is the very first in the country, America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which we are lucky enough to have here in downtown Youngstown. America Makes is “the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM (additive manufacturing) and 3DP (3D printing) technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation.” This institute is one of the many in Youngstown dedicated to furthering the applications of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The Youngstown Business Incubator currently houses a multitude of 3D printing startups and recently welcomed its seventh. The Mahoning Valley is filled with additive manufacturing and we had the pleasure of speaking to many professionals in the industry at Make Youngstown. Youngstown State University (YSU) is no small influencer and is a tour de force with additive manufacturing, opening its own 3D printing center and giving students hands-on experience with this technology.

We had the opportunity to speak to Ashley Martof, a graduate student at YSU studying Industrial & Systems Engineering. Currently researching how the Air Force can integrate additive manufacturing, Ashley has also been leading 3D printing camps in the area for local schools, specifically The Lewis School. Ashley’s interest in 3D printing began with a tour of America Makes back in its early days, immediately falling in love with it, which then lead to an eventual Workforce and Educational Outreach internship with the institute.

“Not only was I learning the equipment, I was in charge of designing 3D printing curriculum for teachers and children,” Ashley said. From there, she started orchestrating camps to educate both students and teachers on the wonders of 3D printing. The camp we visited was focused on additive manufacturing and entrepreneurship for girls in grades 5-8, tasked with using the design software to create a product or build a business. But why girls alone? Ashley notes that many parents have stated their boys would have loved to be a part of this camp. While she does have camps for both boys and girls, Ashley believes stressing the opportunities for girls in 3D printing is important. “I like just taking one camp and focusing on girls in STEM because still, at my age, in college you don’t see many girl engineers or even in the STEM college.”

Things are changing for girls in industrial careers and 3D printing is paving the way. “[M]anufacturing was just a guy’s field because its dirty and its factory work, well now with 3D printing you can have a cleaner factory and it should get the girls more interested in it …and this technology and the design software, it’s really important for the girls to learn about it,” Ashley points out. The possibilities are endless. “Anyone can become an architect, an engineer, a construction worker with this software because 3D printing now brings all of that together...it’s limited to your imagination, as well, whatever you want to do… you can do it now.”