SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, and global additive manufacturing leader Stratasys, announced the winners of their cosponsored 2022 Additive Manufacturing Competition, conducted as part of the 58th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, held in Atlanta. The competition was supported this year by partners nTopology Inc. and Allegheny Education Systems.
Three high school and three college teams received top honors in the additive manufacturing competition, created in 2013 by SME and Stratasys. The contest is intended to both educate high school and postsecondary students about additive manufacturing technologies and its design and to provide them with real-world, hands-on experience that they can apply to a commercial product.
“The partnership between SME and Stratasys makes perfect sense,” said Robert Willig, executive director and CEO of SME. “With our collaborative efforts, we’re changing the world one student at a time through manufacturing. The finalists competing in this year’s additive manufacturing competition blew me away. The sky is the limit for these young innovators.”
In addition to the additive manufacturing competition, all 70 students participated in a certification. The Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification Exam was administered to all students free of charge and was included as a percentage of the total points for each competing team. This exam is the first and only certification validating an individual’s knowledge of industry-standard concepts in additive manufacturing, based on revisions to the Additive Manufacturing Body of Knowledge by the Additive Manufacturing Leadership Initiative (AMLI) in 2016.
Despite the challenging nature of this portion of the competition, an impressive 23 students of the 70 in attendance passed the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification Exam, and 12 students missed by only 1 point. This portion of the competition displayed the extraordinary knowledge that these students have (and continue to develop) for additive manufacturing.
“It’s really important for Stratasys to attend challenges like SkillsUSA mainly because the young kids that attend are going to be the kids in 5 to 10 years who come work at Stratasys,” said Thomas Whiting, Application Engineer at Stratasys. “The more we can do now to prepare them, the better off they’ll be – and we as a manufacturer will be – in the future.”
The competition this year challenged students to design a 3D-printed enclosure that would house three key components including a circuit board, a small motor, and a fan. Willig said the diversity of creative designs was outstanding and the innovative problem solving was on full display throughout the three-day competition. It was truly impressive to watch these young competitors collaborate, problem-solve, and work their way through difficult situations to find an ultimate solution, he added. More than 300 parts were printed during the competition, all on Stratasys 3D-Printers.
Both levels of the winning teams received gold, silver and bronze medals from SkillsUSA, as well as scholarships of $1,500, $1,000 and $500, respectively, from the SME Education Foundation. Both levels also received a one-year subscription for Tooling U-SME classes and a one-year SME membership, plus post-secondary winners received RAPID + TCT full-conference conference passes. Gold-medal-winning teams in both categories won a professional-grade Sketch 3D printer as well.
In all, more than 6,500 career and technical education students – all SkillsUSA state contest winners – competed in 108 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership fields during the national conference.