I want to give you a snapshot of what DTech is like over a random set of three consecutive days. The only thing special planned during these days was the first DTech social on Veterans Day. The two other days in class were completely "normal."
The "Noble Houses of DTech" have been working at their learning stations. Each noble house is at a different location--3D printing, CNC + CAM, electronics, or laser cutting. My role is to help them with tough problems and check out the cool stuff they are making. The rest of learning happens in teams, by trial and error, or by looking at the guides I created online. Each student is trying to learn skills at each station so that they can get a higher rating on the apprenticeship skill chart (novice, journeyman, master).
When class is in session, the lab is buzzing with energy. The students don't need me to threaten them with points or grades--they learn because they want to learn. I love watching them create new things that I never imagined, such as laser cut skulls or interlocking 3D printed arms. This is only the beginning too--I can't wait to see what the students will produce when they go through all four stations and work on their final projects at the end of the year.
The DTech Cohort 2 Students had an amazing time at the 2017 Aviation Career Day at the Camarillo Airport. We started the day by riding in a large bus to the airport. Last year we took the same bus, but there were only 10 of us--mostly empty seats. This year 43 students went and the bus was full. What a difference a year makes.
The bus wasn't the only change from last year. There were way more booths, activities, competitions, and demonstrations for the students this time around. The DTech kids got to fly drones, see the P-51 Mustang fly, talk to veterans from WWII, crash in a virtual cockpit, and fly gliders. They walked away with all types of aviation swag.
Our next major field trip will be JPL in Pasedena--I hope we get to check out the new Mars 2020 rover. Enjoy the slideshow below.
The DTech Workshop is finally starting to feel like a true makerspace. Over the last month we have made some huge improvements to the facility, which is important both for the utility of the space and the culture related to it. The first addition that really made the workshop pop are the large "gladiator" adjustable workbenches (purchased on amazon). The workbenches are steel and solid wood. They give the workshop a whole new professional look--which shifts the perception of what happens in the space. Student groups (not just DTechers) gravitate toward the tables because they feel very un-school like. One student mentioned that we should add a barista station because it felt like a hip coffee shop (with tools apparently).
Another fun addition: shelves with 3D printed brackets. We didn't really have any space to display student work, so I drafted up the the brackets using OnShape. They work well and can support a suprising amount of weight. The shelves also help get rid of some of the clutter on the work spaces. I would imagine in the future we will have to build more shelves to display really cool work.
Whenever guests walk in to the workshop they are impressed. I tell them that it is just the beginning.
Two gentlemen from Raytheon recently spoke to DTech survey about all of the cool things they do as electrical engineers. One of their main projects is the development of infrared cameras in the battlefield and attached to satellites.
The students were so stoked to see the heat sensing cameras. Tom and Greg hooked the camera up to the projectors and the students got to see how the military technology is used. One of the coolest aspects of the presentation was when one of the students walked along the floor and the camera was pointed at his footsteps. The friction from his shoes caused the temperature to go up where he stepped. The camera picked up the temperature difference and could, as Greg put it, look back in time. You can imagine how useful this might be for tracking people.
Greg and Tom encouraged the students to continue working with Arduino because it helps them understand the principles of electronics.
Student in DTech
This week, Dtech is using our 3D printers to design sail-boats! These original Foothill creations will bring the thrill of sailing the Seven Seas to Foothill's campus, through ruthless, competitive races! The winning boat will recieve an all-included cruise through the Mediterranian and $250,000 dollars in a college scholarship! Of course, this is an outstanding lie. But what could be better than bragging rights and the heart of a champion? Innovation, creativity, and design is about to make its way across Foothill's campus!
It has been awhile since I last posted, but you can imagine that summer is a difficult time to work on DTech stuff. My family took a trip to North Carolina for a wedding / kiteboarding and we also spent a month driving through Oregon. Rural Oregon is not the best place to update a blog--or get service for that matter.
We are already into our third week of school and I feel a bit guilty about not posting anything yet. My goal was to post once a week (a vlog or writing), but I have already fallen off that track. I suppose I have an excuse considering all of the start of the year craziness. This year, however, has been quite smooth.
It has been exciting starting the first official DTech cohort of students. Right now the class has 33 sophomore students. They applied for the program during freshmen year. The students are sacrificing half of their lunch to be in the DTech survey course--I am impressed with the turnout considering lunch is sacred social time for many students. They show up because of my superior teaching of course--not! Instead, I think the students like DTech because they have the opportunity to get their hands dirty with CAD, 3D printing, electronics, and entrepreneurship. It will also be a lecture-free course, which I suppose is novel even in our school system which seems to (at least on the surface) support project based learning (PBL).
Right now we are in the middle of the CAD / 3D Printing unit. I wanted to start the year with Onshape CAD and 3D printing because I consider it an essential building block skill for students. Once they know how to do CAD / 3D print, they can do a lot of rapid prototyping. According to our most recent speaker, Tom Weisel (see picture above) from Arch Day Design a medical devices company, fast iteration and prototyping is key to successful engineering. His design process focuses on quickly moving to the prototype stage to see what works, and perhaps more importantly, what doesn't. 3D printing helps reduce the iteration process from weeks to hours. He preached the "fail fast" mantra, though with the caveat that you need to reflect and learn from your failures.
Tom showed the DTech students various medical devices that his small engineering team designed and licensed. It was an awesome presentation because he used language and ideas that the students could easily grasp--not easy for an engineer. It was also cool because he mentioned that they use arduino in the design process, which is actually our next major unit of study after 3D Printing. Apparently we are on to something!
Probably crank out a few more posts within the next week, including a vlog; unless the surf is amazing or my son throws my computer (which he seems to be capable of doing at 17 months old).