The ASME Foundation and NASA have launched a multi-year initiative for K-12 students in the United States called “Future Engineers”. The program is designed to inspire students to solve real-world space exploration challenges. For the program’s first challenge, students were asked to create 3D models of items that could be useful in space.
We caught up with Matt Schatzle, ASME Foundation’s Executive Director to learn more about this exciting initiative in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
AMazing®: Matt, thank you for your participation. This is an exciting opportunity for students to experience design and advanced manufacturing and witness the emergence of additive technologies as a potential game changer in space exploration. As a multi-year initiative, how many 3D design challenges will be offered and how often?
Matt: We will offer at least one challenge per semester, and are exploring the possibility of creating additional contests during summer vacation months and also at summer camps. We have a 5 year partnership with NASA, so the contest possibilities are endless!
Video courtesy of ASME Foundation with technical assistance from NASA
AMazing®: The program’s inaugural challenge involved creating 3D models for items to be used in space exploration. We viewed some pretty cool 3D concept models in the Submission Gallery of the Future Engineers website; from a finger splint to a device that converts moon dust to energy. As the needs in space exploration may differ from those on earth, how are students acquainted with space exploration needs and requirements?
Matt: We purposefully kept the challenge itself vague and offered little to no information on the Future Engineers site on specific space exploration needs and requirements. I think that this approach allows students to free their minds and let their imaginations run wild. In return, you get incredibly cool ideas from quirky, to funny, to “wow – that’s a great idea, why didn’t our engineers think of that?” But with that said, students today as young as five years old are exploring online so they have the option to gather information on their own about the needs of astronauts in space, and base their designs on that research. They can easily find information through NASA’s website.
AMazing®: As we understand competitors can win prizes from visiting NASA’s Payload Operations Center to winning a 3D Printer. Beyond the prizes, what can students gain from participating in the initiative?
Matt: I think first and foremost they get the satisfaction of completing a design that is all their own – unique and the only one of its kind. This leads to confidence and a desire to participate in more engineering challenges. And obviously they also learn new skills such as using CAD software as well as the basics of additive manufacturing.
AMazing®: In order to attract students throughout the United States, how can educators, museums, after-school programs, maker-capable facilities in local communities connect with the Future Engineers challenges and curriculum? What role would you like to see industry play? How can people volunteer and donate?
Matt: The content on the Future Engineers website is simply incredible. We have created great mini science lessons on various aspects of space and gravity. There are videos showing actual 3D printing, interactive lessons on how to use the CAD software, and videos on advanced manufacturing. All the content is free to teachers, students, schools and anyone else interested.
For upcoming contests, Future Engineers is actively searching for educators, volunteers and maker-capable facilities to help mentor the kids who participate in our contests. Anyone looking to volunteer their time or facilities, should visit and sign-up at http://www.futureengineers.org.
Lastly, industry plays a vital role in helping the ASME Foundation make this all happen. We are always looking for new corporate partners. And anyone can go visit the Future Engineers site and make a contribution to the ASME Foundation for Future Engineers, and our other upcoming challenges.
AMazing®: Finally, when winners of the last 3D design challenge are announced, what do you hope to see?
Matt: Lots of smiles and excitement around engineering! A lot of children do not know what engineering is, so hopefully this will be a fun first introduction into our world. And perhaps maybe even an astronaut on the space station radioing down to Houston will say, “Hey, you know Houston I could really use that tool up here…….”
This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Matt for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about Future Engineers and welcome the opportunity to update our readers as the initiative progresses.
About Matt Schatzle:
Matt Schatzle is the Executive Director of the ASME Foundation. He has over 20 years of experience in leading and managing non-profits and foundations. He has been a leader in various organizations from ocean conservation to the USO.
About ASME Foundation:
ASME Foundation serves as the philanthropic branch of ASME and aids in the creation and funding of engineering educational outreach programs in the areas of K-12 STEM, university students and early career assistance, and global development. The ASME Foundation also supports the engineering community through a robust scholarship program, as well as an honors and awards program that highlights the role and value of the engineering in today’s modern society.
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.
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