Calabar goes 3-D

Career & Education

Calabar goes 3-D

Class of ‘89 gifts school with high-tech printer

Associate editor - features

Sunday, February 23, 2020

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THE Calabar High School class of 1989 gifted their alma mater with a 3-D printer during morning devotion on Wednesday, and the administration already has plans to not only incorporate the technology into the school's industrial arts programme, but to use it as an income generator as well since it allows for the design and manufacture of branded memorabilia.

To those ends, the school has already secured partnership for training in the use and application of the technology with Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which operates a 3-D printing innovation centre on its Palisadoes Park campus.

Three members of the class of 89 — Keith Whyte, Leighton Bowen and Richard Lawson — presented the printer, a FlashForge Creator Pro brand with metal frame structure, acrylic covers and dual extruder spools, to Principal Albert Corcho.

Whyte explained the reasoning behind the donation.

“A few years ago when I came and saw the very same plates, drill press that I used from 30 years ago I realised that something had to change, because while they served me well when I went to CAST, now UTech, to do engineering and then on into the sugar indudstry at Monymusk and Bernard Lodge, 30 years later Monymusk sugar factory is no more, Bernard Lodge is no more — and so the skills that I learnt years ago and that helped me then, the kids coming out of high school have no place to go with those sort of knowledge and skills. Robotics, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, drone technology, this is where the society is going and so I realise that we have to be preparing our current students to face what is happening,” he told th e Jamaica Observer.

“So, while it won't be a CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] subject, it will give the boys current skills and technologies that are relevant,” Whyte added.

Parent Teacher's Association President Percival Palmer said plans are in train to procure additional 3-D printers in the near future as part of a wider IT infrasturcture build-out at the school.

“We are seeking to raise $3 million to put in IT infrastructure, smarts room on each block. That is why we are having a lapathon and health and wellness fair on March 7, “ Palmer explained.

“We have a strategic plan that goes up to 2022, and that is why you see a lot of things changing to raise the standard of what we do here as a school.” he added.

For Principal Corcho, who is in his seventh year at the head of the Red hills Road-based school, 3-D printing is aligned with the move in recent years to adopt new streams of technology.

He said Calabar was one of the first schools in the island to start the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) digital media syllabus when it was introduced some five years ago. The school also does CAPE games theory and animation, which it started three years ago.

The school has been registering 100 per cent passes in both subjects over the years, so much so that there is a cohort from fourth form currently preparing to sit the digital media exam.

“Right now I have six boys in grade 10 who are doing CAPE digital media. Six boys in grade 10!” he reiterated, unable to mask his pride.

“They were hand-picked because they are good at technology and at visual arts. They do classes in the afternoons and on the weekend. The problem I have is that I don't have more boys who are doing it,” he said with a chuckle. “I don't have the space or the teacher component.”

Calabar also does robotics, offering it as an extracurricular activity at the junior level.

“That's where the world is going and that's where we want to go too; and what we see going on with robotics is an indication that the boys are ready for the technology. I'm very confident that this [3-D printer] will help enhance our results and our results in our engineering department, so on behalf of the entire school, on behalf of the engineering department, thank you.

“We welcome our boys when they come back to us and we say to them, continue to give back to this institution, because once you do that the young men we have in our charge will become great citizens of this country,” Corcho said.

Executive director of the innovation centre at CMU, Erica Simmons was present for the handover of the printer on Wednesday.

“The innovation centre is really focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is what we're in right now, which says that massive disruption is going to happen to industries all across the world because of these technologies. Well, 3-D printing is one of those technologies and we are proud at CMU to say we have the largest 3-D printing facility in the Caribbean, and we have a fleet of 20 3-D printing machines. We also have Jamaica's first additive manufacturing engineers, which is a new discipline that's coming out of this new technology,” she said.

“The transformation is happening and we cannot be a part of the global marketplace in the future if we don't transform with where industry is going. So, this is an important step that Calabar is taking and bringing this 3-D Printer down here. I want to see more use of computer-aided design [CAD]. We do a lot of stuff with technical drawing and a lot of the schools still use T-squares and are still doing things on paper, which is really an obsolete kind of thing. When you go to industry, we don't do anything on paper anymore. So the CAD laboratory, along with the 3-D printer, they work hand in hand, and when we put those together we have a complete life cycle,” Simmons said.

Simons and additive manufacturing engineer Dayne Miller will walk the Calabar team through the 3-D printing training.

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