Within the United States, many communities are rallying to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among young people. The motivation to create more future professionals in the sciences is precipitated by hundreds of organizations expressing a need for more people to fill roles that require technical knowledge and scientific aptitude.
The National Science Foundation organized a local career fair at the Dulles Town Center, inviting over sixty organizations to create exhibits encouraging young people to consider STEM careers. The DC ACM attended this two-day fair, creating an exhibit featuring 3D printers. Additionally, the DC ACM partnered with a local makerspace, Nova Labs, who’s members brought hand-assembled 3D printers to demo at our joint exhibit.
Over a dozen DC ACM volunteers staffed the exhibit over the two days, availing themselves to young people to talk about their careers. DC ACM Officer & Member-At-Large, Varetta Huggins designed t-shirts for the volunteers with the slogan “Ask Me About My STEM Career.” DC ACM Secretary Matt Piekarczyk assembled a video from several sources, including exclusive unreleased footage from NASA of 3D printer tests in zero-gravity conditions. Additionally, other DC ACM members, Roger Fujii, Isaac Christoffersen, Eric Noriega, Bob Downs, Gene Lloyd, and Gene Gaines all volunteered hours at the mall talking to young people and inspiring them to learn more about a future in the sciences.
The event was an overwhelming success. Hundreds of high school students and their families stopped by, giving DC ACM volunteers the opportunity to talk about 3D printing, science, and hold conversations about their careers. Gene G. posted dozens of photos to the DC ACM meetup group which evince the crowd and interest the DC ACM/Nova Labs exhibit drew.
Young people were intensely interested in 3D printing, what it can do today, and what researchers are looking into creating in the future. Many parents and high schoolers asked us great questions about the technology. Many had questions 3D model creation process which precedes the printing, initiating discussions around 3D modelling software, 3D visualizations, and the software which controls the printers themselves.
The interest in 3D printing, in turn, created an opportunity to talk about science. My favorite question to young people that day was “Are you considering a career in science?” I received a variety of responses, from strong answers detailing which specific field was of interest, to more open responses conveying interest still yet perfectly formed.
At the event, many other organizations approached DC ACM volunteers about exhibiting at future events over the next six months regarding young people and sciences. If you are interested in volunteering for one of these events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org expressing your interest.