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Prototype program will teach high school students

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Prototype and design student
Prototype and design student

High school students can learn the art and science that goes into prototypes through a new workshop at NWTC. The hands-on course will meet weekly, January through March 2021, and is free to participants. It's one of the ways Associate Dean Jill Thiede is working to get the word out about the little-known, high-demand program.

"When we find students who enjoy both art and the chance to do hands-on building activities, they love this program," Thiede said recently. "It's this unusual mixture of art, invention and hands-on technical fabrication."

What Prototype and Design is

Students in the Prototype and Design associate degree program learn skills in additive manufacturing, hand fabrication, high quality painting and finishing, 3D drawing software, CNC machining, and RTV model making. They can build three-dimensional prototypes and models for use in manufacturing, consumer products, and other fields of product development. They can also construct three-dimensional models for use in props, architectural design, and mechanical design.

High school prototype workshop lets students learn by doing

Thiede said the workshop was designed for high school juniors and seniors, but they would consider sophomores or 2020 high school graduates as well. Participants should be willing to learn and try new skills.

"They will be making small projects using CNC machining, using 3D printing, using molding techniques. They will actually be designing and doing those hands-on projects each of the nights that they're coming in for the seminar."

Prototypes help companies improve their designs before manufacturing

Prototypes are critical to companies creating new products or parts, Thiede said, and there are only two prototyping associate degree programs in the United States, so graduates are needed everywhere. 

"One prototype is worth 1,000 meetings," she said. "You get everyone on the product development team aligned as to what you want to make. You present a prototype and everyone can give feedback. Having something in their hands allows them to figure out the best next steps. So graduates are sought-after. They really become jack-of-all-trades, because they have to learn all different techniques to find the best way to fabricate a sample design."

Learn more about the NWTC Prototype and Design Associate Degree Program.


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