MxD Learn Partners with America Makes in Pilot of Virtual Additive Manufacturing Educational Program for Middle School Students

Program Prepares Students for 3D Printing Career Opportunities and Raises Cybersecurity Awareness

MxD Learn Partners with America Makes in Pilot of Virtual Additive Manufacturing Educational Program for Middle School Students

May 20, 2021 (CHICAGO). MxD Learn has partnered with America Makes to train the future additive manufacturing workforce with the announcement of a recently completed pilot program designed to expose middle school students to 3D printing, cybersecurity, and future career opportunities. The virtual program allows students to earn mini-badges in additive manufacturing and cybersecurity. It was funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act through the Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program.

The program, run by America Makes, is designed to build the career pathways and talent pipelines necessary for the highly skilled positions within the additive manufacturing industry. The 11 micro-learning modules in the middle school program feature a series of short interactive lessons, introducing students to the basic elements of additive manufacturing, introduction to cybersecurity, and staying secure when 3D printing.

MxD Learn contributed two modules focused exclusively on cybersecurity, featuring “Tips for Staying Safe Online” and “Protecting Your Designs and Equipment: Cybersecurity in 3D Printing.” Learning content and activities reinforce creating strong passwords, checking for trusted websites, safe and secure web browsing, and file sharing. The modules introduce students to important cybersecurity-related concepts like secure cloud storage, USB safety and scanning, encryption, and virus and malware prevention. MxD Learn also contributed additional perspective across the suite of modules, developed in conjunction with Bull City Learning, related to the cyber awareness necessary throughout the additive manufacturing process.

“It’s important to understand cybersecurity any time you’re online or sharing digital files. That includes when you’re 3D printing,” said Lizabeth Stuck, Senior Director of MxD Learn. “The introduction to cybersecurity skills included in the modules provides students, as well as teachers and parents, with practical tips to stay safe and secure while 3D printing. The modules also engage students in hands-on learning activities to drive both awareness and interest in key concepts related to the growing importance of cybersecurity in manufacturing.”

A subset of pilots was rolled out to middle schools and Fab Labs that are part of the New Collar Network, a national nonprofit that is a recognized organization in the Fab Lab Network founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Center of Bits and Atoms. The cybersecurity content in the initial pilots was provided by MxD Learn.

Participating pilot middle schools included:

  • Fab Lab Hub, Santa Fe, N.M. in collaboration with the Santa Fe Indian School
  • The Gregory School, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Dayton Regional STEM School, Dayton, Ohio
  • Fab Lab Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla.
  • Fab Lab El Paso, El Paso, Texas
  • The 3D Printing Store, in collaboration with Aurora CO Middle School, Denver, Colo.

Feedback from participating schools in the pilot has been positive. Dennis Conner, Director of the Fab Lab at the Gregory School, said, “Teaching with these modules felt like having a co-teacher, someone who could connect with the students at their level. We were able to quickly engage with creating a 3D model while having many discussions about the changing world of 3D printing.”

MxD Learn and America Makes anticipate the middle school program being available to school districts across the country by late summer.

About MxD
MxD (Manufacturing times Digital) is where innovative manufacturers go to forge their futures.
In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, MxD equips its more than 300 members with the digital tools and expertise they need to begin building every part better than the last. MxD operates from a state-of-the-art innovation center near downtown Chicago. Its 22,000-square-foot factory floor features some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world. MxD Learn, the institute’s workforce development arm, fosters collaboration across industry, academia, government, and non-profit leadership to develop the workforce needed for digital and cybersecurity applications in manufacturing.

About America Makes
America Makes is the nation’s leading public-private partnership for additive manufacturing (AM) technology and education. America Makes members from industry, academia, government, workforce and economic development organizations, work together to accelerate the adoption of AM and the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Founded in 2012 as the Department of Defense’s national manufacturing innovation institute for AM and first of the Manufacturing USA network, America Makes is based in Youngstown, Ohio and managed by the not-for-profit National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). Visit to learn more.