ShopBot in Education

STEM Obama with ShopBot

In January 2010, President Obama visited a wind
turbine and fabrication lab in the Technology
Department at Lorain County (Ohio) Community College.
He was given a demonstration of a ShopBot tool in action.

“Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America’s success. But if we want to win the future—if we want innovation to produce jobs in America… then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”
- from President Obama’s
State of the Union address, January 2011

The nation’s educational system has let our students fall behind. ShopBot is committed to being part of the solution.

The U.S. now ranks 60th in the world in producing scientist and engineers; it has fallen 22% in just the last decade. Our high school students rank 23rd in science and 30th in math. To continue to thrive in a modern world and to prepare our children for lives, jobs, and a culture which increasingly depend on an understanding of science and math, we need to be making a stronger investment in education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

We’re committed to the serving the needs of vocational and STEM education programs. To that end, ShopBot Tools have become integral to curricula in high schools all across the country. Major school systems such a Clark County, NV (20 ShopBots), and Salt Lake City, UT (12 ShopBots) have been using ShopBots to train their students for years, and they have found that their graduates are able to find employment within a variety of industries.  As budgets get tighter and communities are asking for more accountability from their schools, the concept of providing skills which are not only current, but ahead of the market place, makes more and more sense.

Our involvement means more than making our tools available for purchase -- although the affordability of our tools continues to make ShopBot a preferred choice in school systems. We are also building a comprehensive suite of free resources and services for educators and their students.

These elements include:

Some of our efforts are ready for you to use now. Others are in development. Check back here often to see our progress.

Take me to the tools, including ShopBot Education Packages.
Click here to view our products, including detailed tool specs and pricing.

Are you using digital fabrication in your classroom? Want to share your ideas for projects and learn what other teachers are doing?
Join our community of educators at 100kSchools.org

Hoping to purchase a ShopBot Tool for your school? We can help make it a reality.
Learn about ShopBot’s Grant-Writing Assistance Program. It’s free.

Read more about Technology & Education.
click here

Technology and Education

CNC tools and ShopBots are becoming a focus for new types of technology training in educational settings.  As the traditional model of vocational training has waned, many school systems are adapting with newer technologies.  Along with the newer technology comes a training model that provides learning experience that readies students for advanced, well-paying positions and that teaches about growing and adjusting to new technology rather than just acquiring rote skills for individual machines or specific production processes.

There are now opportunities to provide students with training in emerging areas that are increasingly the standards for manufacturing,  production, and service in our global competitive world.  Students exposed to these new technologies can enter the field with knowledge that allows them to begin their careers with positions, not just jobs.

Traditional trades such as furniture making, cabinet building, construction, boat building, metal working, mold making, sign building, etc. are all making the transition to computerized machinery.  As competition from abroad threatens many “old school” businesses, there will be a tremendous need for trained CNC operators and programmers in the next decade and beyond.  This means a student can now enter a shop and command not only a better position, but a better salary.

One of the major factors that supports this shift is that students today, from early ages, are knowledgeable and comfortable with computers and their many uses.  They have used them in school for years, as well as at home.  This familiarity with computers has made the introduction of CAD/CAM software much easier, and more importantly it has given them a set of skills that are often superior to those of the established professionals in many of the industries they are entering.  They are very comfortable with using computers to do things and make things, and with the relationship between a software control system, a file of instructions and a physical tool.  These students can now move into industry and instead of becoming a “gopher” performing basic - often menial - dead-end services, they can enter a shop or factory with the knowledge to perform tasks their employers have yet to master.  This in turn opens new career paths which make them much more employable, and valuable as employees.

Integrating Technology

Schools have the challenge of providing their students with real-world training, and this can be done via inter-departmental co-operation.  For example, the computer classes work on the development of skills using CAD drawing programs.  These skills can be used in art, theatre and business coursework.  Vocational and technical departments provide projects and CNC machinery to realize designs in real world products and test skills with hands-on applications.  Depending on the orientation of the staff, practical projects can be arranged that not only provide students further experience, but provide services and support within the school system or community because this CNC technology will do real work.  Here are some examples;

  • Every district has the need for hundreds of signs, and these can be done in house.  This not only saves a district considerable amounts of money, it also gives a realistic job experience to the students. 
  • Art departments can incorporate design work into the signmaking and help get students more comfortable with hands-on work.
  • Similar projects can be done to construct school furniture such as shelving and storage for classrooms and offices.
  • Theatre departments can use CNC in producing sets and props. 
  • Business and economics can be taught via a simulated small business course that involves production and sale of real products.

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