Printing the future


Jada Hallman, Editor-in-Chief

The Space and Engineering Academy at West High is known for its exceptional hands-on learning experience for our students. The program has implemented a new process of engineering that allows students to craft their own creations and toys simply from their imaginations. Through 3D printing, the Engineering 4 class of West High has been exploring the engineering design program, Creo Parametric, in order to bring a creative design into physical existence.

Teaching the Engineering 4 class, Randy Moehnke gives students the opportunity to print their own toys and mechanics through one of the two 3D printers at West. In the process, students first have to utilize the Creo Parametric program to design their objects on the computer. The design is then transferred into a code that can be sent to the 3D printer where strings of plastic are melted through specific nozzles into the shape of the specific object. Toys are built one layer at a time, building upon itself in a slow and intricate process. The process results in a hard, solid plastic object that replicates a 3-dimensional representation of the computer design. Toys range from catapults to cars, exercising the students’ imaginations through a fun and interactive learning experience. Each object is made piece by piece, glued together and crafted individually, which requires students to analyze the building of it and figure out how to put it all together to complete the finished result.

“Our engineering students are learning skills that they will use throughout their college students[sic] and careers,” said Moehnke. Having the skills to operate such equipment gives students the opportunity to build their experiences and experiment with different processes that may be involved in their future careers. Occupations that involve product design, medical device design, architectural visualization and entertainment design incorporate the skills of 3D printing. The practice teaches technicality, specificity, determination and patience, as most designs aren’t perfect the first time around and often need to be adjusted multiple times after printing. “In future engineering jobs, a lot of things you do is through CAD, computer-aided drawing. This gave us a real-life example of drawing something in the computer and actually printing it and seeing what we made, what we did wrong and what we did right,” said senior Dennis Iljincika.

“It’s very empowering because you basically design every little part of the process, all of the mechanics, how everything works together,” said senior Chaztine Embucado. “It is literally your own creation.”