Students and staff are ecstatic that local real estate firm, Estate Professionals, recently donated a 3D printer to Niwot High School (NHS). Computer science teacher Teresa Ewing, who was also integral in bringing this wish list equipment to the school, said this donation has been a great way to help build up the school’s technical program.
“Programming the 3D printer is a carrot,” Ewing said. “When students complete an assigned project, like their latest one of designing a playground, they are given the opportunity to use the printer.”
This is Ewing’s first year in a NHS classroom after three years teaching at Flagstaff Academy. She spent 30 years in the corporate electrical and optical engineering world before she completed her teaching certification. Her 10-plus years of volunteering with high school students at Up-A-Creek Robotics in Longmont clinched her desire to work with kids as a profession.
When Logan Schlutz, an associate broker at Estate Professionals, reached out to NHS inquiring what the company could do for the high school, Ewing and her students’ hopes to one day have a 3D printer in school became a reality.
Schlutz is a 2010 Niwot High graduate, his father, Ivan Schlutz, graduated from NHS in 1980, and other family members, including Schlutz’s sister are also graduates of the school.
“NHS gave me my first opportunity to practice leadership,” Schlutz said. “I just feel incredibly fortunate to have had the experiences I did there. There are a ton of really motivated people there and the experiences I had really built on themselves. “
Quietly whirring away on a project programmed by sophomore Clay Kleespies during an AP computer science principles class, the printer is creating a unique cup he designed. It will take 56 minutes to be completed through the layer-by-layer process.
The elegant printer is connected to a monitor that displays an image of the end product. Bright green plastic filament is slowly being fed from a roll reminiscent of an oversized spool of thread and is then extruded in sweeping motions onto a tray, building the cup, slice-by-minute-slice from the bottom up.
The gradual progression of the creation is mesmerizing. But the best part is that students are being inspired by the technology with its ability to start out making simple items and advance to more complicated undertakings.
“I would like to do something bigger now,” sophomore Keith Hemenway said. “My first project was a cool introduction, a good gateway. This is weird futuristic technology that’s here now.”
In addition to the AP class using it, the printer will be available to a 3D Printing Club, as well as an introductory programming and an engineering class.
Aleph Objects, Inc., out of Loveland, manufactured the printer. The model is the Lulzbot Taz. Ewing was familiar with this particular device. Her fondness for this machine, and knowing that the company was conveniently located if there‘s ever a need for support or maintenance, made the purchase decision an easy one. The cost of the printer, initial supplies, and a cart came to approximately $2,500.
The generosity extended by Estate Professionals to the high school is owing to their philosophy of giving. The firm of six licensed agents has begun a program they’re calling “Operation Pay It Forward.” The goal is to assist other businesses with community giving.
During Longmont Chamber of Commerce’s annual Unity in the Community event last week, Estate Professionals hosted one of the 25 business, non-profit and community booths. The focus was to allow others to be exposed to the gratification and importance of giving.
Ewing and the 3D printer were featured at the booth and Schlutz was pleased to let other businesses know they too can help to check off wish list items with their kindness.
“It’s easy for us to write a check, but that would miss the personal touch we feel is important,” Schlutz said. “We’ve got a list of other needed donations, so we hope businesses will contact us and we can help them to give too. We are also open to hearing from teachers and organizations with other ideas for what they need.”
Schlutz said, “We put the needs of people first because of the industry we’re in and we’re a hyper-local company. We’re very fortunate to work in such a great market and economy. Education is important to us. I never thought of computer science or engineering as a career, but I would have it explored it if I had been exposed to it. We’re happy to be planting that seed for students to see what the future holds for them. It’s such a tangible way to know how valuable their skills can be. We have a responsibility to give back to our community and hope other businesses do it too.”
Ewing mentioned that she would like to provide her classes with another item – Arduino circuitry – which costs about $900.
There’s clearly a great deal of mutual admiration between Ewing and Estate Professionals, with each praising the other for their support and dedication to the community and education.
“Our classes are about diversity and inclusivity. We want to give all students the opportunity to be excited about engineering and computer science,” Ewing said. “Estate Professionals’ support is so greatly appreciated!”
“After meeting Teresa in person, we felt she was fantastic and it was very clear, once they had the printer in place, they’d be able to use it a lot,” Schlutz said.
To find out more about Estate Professionals’ Operation Pay It Forward Program, call Logan Schlutz at 303-815-3922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.