Creating a STEM tide in Singapore with 3D printing
By Benjamin Cher December 11, 2015
- Stratasys expanding pilot programmes for schools and tertiary institutes with STEM Inc
- Temasek Polytech first educational institution to introduce 3D printing curriculum
SCIENCE, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Singapore received a boost from 3D printing solutions company Stratasys Inc, which is partnering with STEM Inc, Science Centre Singapore’s initiative to bring applied learning to schools.
This partnership will see the expansion of 3D printing workshops from four during the pilot programme phase, to 20 by next year. The pilot programme ran this year, with various projects catering to the different education levels.
This is part of the push to enhance STEM skills in the island-republic, according to Science Centre Singapore chief executive Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng (pic above).
“In school, they will learn STEM skills with real-world problems, including making and creating solutions,” he told a media briefing.
“We want to teach rapid prototyping, and Stratasys’ solutions are able to provide innovative teaching kits for educators to use,” he added.
STEM Inc will also be looking at incorporating 3D printing into the various other workshops it currently offers.
Besides bringing applied learning to schools, 3D printing is now becoming part of the curriculum at Temasek Polytechnic, according to Chee Feng Ping, mechatronics lecturer at its School of Engineering.
Stratasys approached Temasek Polytechnic on teaching 3D printing to students in May 2014.
“There was a lot of hype about 3D printing at that time due to the fused deposition modelling patent expiring,” Chee said.
“This is a good avenue for us to get students interested in engineering, where they can see their design come to life through 3D modelling,” she added.
Temasek Polytechnic has now expanded the programme into an advanced elective module for secondary school students, which has become quite popular, according to Chee.
“We managed to run two programmes this year … and are targeting to run three to four programmes next year,” she said.
3D printing is also now being embedded into the engineering curriculum at Temasek Polytechnic, according to Chee.
“This is to refresh the topic and bring the reality of what is happening outside of school. Teaching them and giving them hands-on experience with 3D printing helps them when they go out to work,” she said.
“It also gives them a better impression of what engineering looks like now, encouraging them to remain in engineering.
“We definitely see students being more enthusiastic … they are very interested in what 3D printing is about,” said Chee (pic).
“We see the enthusiasm when it is not just about theory, maths or physics, but when it is about seeing something the students have printed on and are able to do hands-on experiments with,” she added.
Experiments take on a new facet when the object is real, and simulations come to life, Chee argued.
3D printing aspirations
Singapore houses the regional headquarters for Stratasys, making it the logical choice as the base to roll out educational initiatives, according to Ido Eylon, Southern Asia and Pacific general manager at the company.
“Education specifically [requires] a composition of open-minded people who are willing to adopt new technology first,” Eylon told Digital News Asia (DNA) in an interview.
“At the end of the day, they are early adopters, visionaries and less risk-averse when dealing with the future, making it easier for companies like us to cooperate with educational institutes,” he added.
The importance of how technology is being put to use makes educational institutes natural partners in bringing 3D printing to the masses.
“There are plans to roll out these educational initiatives anywhere they are accepted,” Eylon (pic) said.
When asked about plans to roll out these initiatives in Malaysia and Indonesia, he said, “There is nothing that has happened yet, so we are unable to say when and what initiatives will be rolled out.”
3D printing applications now stretch across different industries, from aerospace to medical, so incorporating it into education will help educators bring theory to life, according to Eylon.
“Sometime STEM educators want to use 3D printing to create an education tool, or make a point or clarify an idea,” he said.
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