AVID Students, 3D Printing, and The Future

by Deborah Cox


What do you want to be when you grow up?  There is an electives course, Advancement Via Individual Determination (“AVID”) designed to help answer this very question for a group of middle school students in Oregon.  It is a question that parents and guidance counselors take seriously and work tirelessly to help students successfully navigate. Recently, an invitation to speak about careers in 3D printing with this group of AVID students came up, and I jumped at the opportunity!


AVID students get a glimpse at a variety of future career options in order to help them with their decision of what to study in college.  Every month guest speakers with varying carriers visit with the AVID students and share information about their career field and the path they took to get there. The intent is to inspire youth to get excited about what the future can hold for them as well as some tangible steps to achieving that particular career goal.


Working with kids of all ages and sharing my passion for 3D printing technology is so much fun. During this visit, we looked at the changing relationship between manufacturing and 3D printing; how SOLIDWORKS and 3D printing helps companies save money with quicker design iterations, faster prototypes and get products to consumers quickly and less expensively.

We covered the different printing technologies Stratasys and GoEngineer offer (FDM and Polyjet) and what applications are best suited for each.

We talked about how 3D printing is changing lives every day. The medical industry is just one field that’s experiencing huge benefits with this technology. It’s one of my favorite to talk about because of inspiring real-life stories like the video clip below shows:



The students watched a series of YouTube videos about GoEngineer, 3D Printing, and our Summer Kids Camp program.

We had 3D printed participation prizes for each class with the Halo 3D printed character taking the lead as the most popular prize.

Students also got some hands-on time to examine and play with several Polyjet and FDM 3D printed parts, letting them get a feel for what each technology has to offer in regards to the various material and color options, texture, strength, and more.


Some great discussion was sparked by questions about the 3D printing process and the bigger picture of what steps are taken along the way to get from thinking up a part in your head to holding it in your hands.

Questions from the group throughout the presentation were inspired, funny, and thoughtful.

The 6th graders asked if we could 3D print cars.  I explained that there are cars being printed now, but not in production yet.  They also asked if we could print more Halo parts; which we can.  And, of course, they wanted to know what the biggest part I have ever printed was. To answer this, I let them know that I printed a Boeing strut (part of an airplane) that was 3 1/2′ tall.

The 7th graders wanted color parts, glass parts, and to know how to get signed up for our Kids Camp, and best of all, one student asked “…how did you make the brain so squishy?” The brain they were referring to  was part of a medical demonstration I did and was printed out of tango black material to give the real (close to) feel of brains as it is a soft &
squishy material.

3D Printing

To sum up the reaction by all the students, there were many comments like this:  “…WOW…COOL…”, and “… this is what I want to learn about to help people!”

Hats off to all the AVID teachers who do such an amazing job with the students, getting them on the right track for a great future.  Cheers to future engineers!





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