3 Takeaways from MakerBot’s “Teaching the Startup Mentality” Panel at SXSWedu


Last week,  MakerBot went to SXSWedu to hold a panel about teaching startup culture in schools. We know that not every educator could attend, so we thought it would be helpful to share a few highlights that resonated with us from the plenary and Q&A sessions.Bringing startup culture to schools means creating an environment where students  can enhance their creativity through experimentation rather than be solely gauged through the traditional learning. It’s clear that the current education model isn’t working for everyone.

As the World Economic Forum reported earlier this year, 65% of students in school right now are studying for jobs that will no longer exist by the time they graduate. MakerBot’s CEO Jonathan Jaglom explained that traits learned from 3D printing like not being afraid to fail, continually adjusting to problems, learning to iterate and collaborating as a team is central to being successful in future workplaces. Check out these three takeaways from the panel!

1. 3D Printing Teaches Students to Learn From Failure
According to Yolanda Valencia, Science and Engineering Chair at Florida’s Gulliver Schools, once students were unafraid to fail in the classroom, they thrived. “3D printing is a tool that develops collaboration, communication, or critical thinking through real meaningful projects,” said Valencia. “It excites kids, it gets them going. They love 3D printing because it’s amazing to them to see their ideas and designs come to life.” Furthermore, Jaglom gave an example of how just like in Valencia’s classroom, teamwork across disciplines is an important part of working at fast-paced companies MakerBot. “The teams we set up have different attributes. We will group a mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, designer and a software engineer together because we recognize as a company that the chances of finding a solution from one vertical field of expertise are actually pretty slim. Different skill sets collaborating together increases the likelihood that we’ll find a solution.”

2. Teaching the Startup Mentality Starts in Elementary School
Valencia explained that teaching the startup mentality can start as early as in elementary school. “My daughter is four years old, and with Printshop she can draw on an iPad and send her drawing to a printer,” said Valencia. “We’re now incorporating this app into the engineering and science curriculum for students in their primary years. Kids in kindergarten can use this.” She went on to explain how elementary school aged students are actually beginning to build out their designs in TinkerCad. “One project we have elementary school students do over the course of the year is work towards designing a city. One group works on the hospitals, and the other kids work together to build other structures that would be in the city.” These exercises get students to think together and work collaboratively.

3. Startup Culture Prepares Students to Be Innovators in Jobs of the Future.
Another question that the panel discussed was how 3D printing can help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Jim Zahniser, executive director at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering said, “Right now, we don’t know how 3D printing is going to impact the future, but any piece of technology that builds the confidence of students and helps them understand that failure isn’t a negative outcome is a positive attribute for any worker in tackling a project.” At MakerBot, we have a similar outlook. We can’t tell you exactly where this technology will be in ten years, or how people will use it in their workplaces, but we are confident that students will be more competitive if they learn the technology

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It was our absolute pleasure to participate and we’d also like to thank Yolanda Valencia, Jim Zahniser, and Ryan Grepper, for coming to Texas and helping us put on what turned out to be an excellent panel.