The Greater Baltimore Committee’s Education and Workforce Committee began work on this year’s goal of identifying the gaps between academic training and workforce needs in the 3-D printing industry by getting baseline information about what is in place in the region. The committee is focused on 3-D printing as its test case industry for determining how the business community can better work with school systems to make sure that students are ready for tech careers.
The committee heard from Andrew Coy, executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, and committee co-chairman Brian Russell, integrated practice manager at Ayers Saint Gross, at its February 5 meeting.
In his overview of the Digital Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit that fosters innovation, technological advancements and entrepreneurship by helping youths grow their digital skills, Coy focused on the work the foundation does with 3-D printing, modeling and imaging.
The foundation, established in 2013, operates in a space in Federal Hill that was repurposed as a technology center where youths and community members alike can develop their skills.
Currently the foundation serves more than 450 youths annually and Coy anticipates quadrupling that number this year.
“We are seeing fantastic interest,” he said.
The foundation offers year-round programs for youths in first through 12th grade, a monthly family workshop and access for community groups.
Diversity in gender and ethnicity is also important in 3-D technology, Coy said. He noted one way to spark girls’ interest in the technology and a possible career in STEM- (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related fields is to tap into their interests, such as using a 3-D printer to create wearable technology items.
Peaking youths’ interest in STEM-related fields is important, Coy said, because there are more than 20,000 jobs available in technology professions in the Baltimore area. Those jobs pay an average salary of $85,205.
The committee’s co-chairman, Brian Russell, works closely with the building industry and told the committee that 3-D printing has revolutionized the way that planning is done. Russell secured a state EARN grant in partnership with Towson University, which offers extensive training in the building industry. Informational modeling in construction will be a key part of the industry’s evolution and students will need to be up to date with training in that area.