Ultimaker and America Makes have announced a new program to broaden access to 3D printers for female students across the US.
With gender disparity still a major issue in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses of study, efforts are increasing to bring more young women into these classrooms. The 3D printing industry has been key in supporting such efforts. New programs targeting traditionally underserved students help to broaden access and, eventually, to level the playing field for a more equitable future.
The latest such effort has been announced today, as Ultimaker and America Makes have partnered for a new program. Ultimaker describes the program:
“Additive Edge is a national outreach program that inspires high school students in the U.S. to explore additive manufacturing (3D printing) and entrepreneurship. The program will distribute the Ultimaker printers to secondary schools that successfully recruit female students into additive manufacturing courses. Each student who passes the engineering course can include additive manufacturing experience on their professional resume or college application.”
More than 20 Ultimaker 3D printers will be donated through Additive Edge to kick off the effort. These systems, the company says, “will be used in high schools across the country to grow awareness and entrepreneurship opportunities for 3D printing technology among young women.” Previously, Ultimaker donated more than a dozen of its 3D printers for the #MakerGirlGoesMobile campaign from MakerGirl.
For girls and young women to start and to succeed in STEM fields, support from allies — whether corporate or individuals — is vital. Programs in place ensure that industries like 3D printing become more inclusive.
“We’re passionate about making professional 3D printers, software, materials, and services that are versatile and easy to use for everyone. But more importantly, we want to add sustainable value as a company and foster an environment of equity that enables the next generation of female engineers to leverage 3D printing and solve the world’s challenges with additive manufacturing. Together we can make it happen,” said Greg Elfering, President of Ultimaker Americas.
The 3D printing industry workforce is currently approximately 13% female. That’s a long way to go to reach 50/50 gender parity.
Long-term efforts are needed to heighten awareness and increase access. And those efforts need to be a conscious choice to build a stronger industry. That Additive Edge was announced on International Women’s Day is no coincidence; the announcement serves to underscore the importance of the need to #ChooseToChallenge the status quo for a more equitable tomorrow.
“We are delighted that Ultimaker has provided its 3D printing technology – a critical resource we need to grow the representation of women in both technical fields and engineering – particularly additive manufacturing. We believe increasing the number of women pursuing these types of careers will not only benefit the additive industry but all of manufacturing,” said Josh Cramer, Education and Workforce Director at America Makes