Making a Difference - Solid Innovations' Participation in Penn State Berks' English Learners Course

- Penn State's Langan Launch Box, Reading Pennsylvania - 

Established in 1748 and settled by German emigrants, Reading Pennsylvania is known for having a long an industrious history. During the French and Indian War, Reading became the epicenter of military activity with the surrounding mountains giving rise to multiple military bases. By the time of the American Revolution, Reading became a central location for the iron industry and had a total production output greater than that of England's. While the Revolutionary War raged on, Reading's iron production supplied George Washington's troops with desperately needed cannons, rifles, and ammunition.

Reading also has roots as a genuine American melting pot. In the early 1800's Reading faced cultural challenges relating to judicial proceedings involving the German speaking Pennsylvania Dutch, specifically the hanging of Susan Cox, a German speaking resident. This event attracted world-wide attention & sympathy and helped mold the Reading as diverse an culturally accepting place.

Reading continued industrially into the 1800's and became a primary transportation hub for Pennsylvania anthracite coal through the use of canal systems. The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company, incorporated in 1833, took over the transportation of coal and other industrial goods until its eventual change of hands and bankruptcy in 1971. By the 1930's, Reading population had plateaued at 120,000 souls. Starting in the late 1940's, and through the 1970's, Reading saw a significant down-turn in productivity and prosperity due to a decline in coal usage, U.S. based industrial manufacturing, and a national trend of urban decline. 

Reading has since seen an economic stabilization but remains a shadow of its former self. The Reading area demographic has continued to change and has seen a significant increase in diversity, less so with German speaking emigrants this time around. The primary demographic change in recent years stems from an increase in the local Hispanic populations, which census data shows have been leaving more expensive places like New York City. As of the 2010 Census, 58.2% of Readings population is of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.

With changing demographics comes changing cultural traditions and economic impact. However, what hasn't changed is that manufacturing industries are the primary employer in the Reading region. Industrial businesses in Reading today continue to breath life into an otherwise dwindling economy. 

The local Penn State University branch campus, Penn State Berks, understands the importance of manufacturing in both Reading's history and future. To help in the rejuvenation of manufacturing in the region, Penn State Berks has started an English Learners program to help prepare members of the local Latino & Hispanic community for the industrial job market.

Program participants are familiarized with the fundamental computer skills and are taught a working vocabulary, in English, of critical computer terms. This computational foundation paves the way for participants to develop a working knowledge of 3D-Printer operation and use. In order to utilize the equipment to it's full potential, participants are taught each step of the Additive Manufacturing process from design to the final fabrication of their own 3D-model.

 Participants dilligently 3D-modeling their own designs

Participants dilligently 3D-modeling their own designs

 Bertha, who doesn't speak any English and wasn't familiar with computers, was the fastest student to design and print her individualized part. She has an unbelievable work ethic, well done!

Bertha, who doesn't speak any English and wasn't familiar with computers, was the fastest student to design and print her individualized part. She has an unbelievable work ethic, well done!

 Herandy completes her first 3D-Print, bravo!

Herandy completes her first 3D-Print, bravo!

 Ramon jokingly comments on the slowness of the Additive process

Ramon jokingly comments on the slowness of the Additive process

To effectively teach participants the ins and outs of 3D-Printing, Penn State Berks provides interpreters and leverages their industry relationship with Joseph Sinclair, founding member of Solid Innovations, LLC.

Started in 2015, Solid Innovations, LLC, provides manufacturing companies with software solutions that make the Additive Manufacturing process, also known as 3D-Printing, easier to understand and perform at scale. Solid Innovations' focus is centered on creating user friendly software that makes 3D-Printers Smart so that less user training is required for proper operation.

During the English Learners course, participants are taught how to use Solid Innovations' PerceptEngine software. PerceptEngine enables participants to 3D-Print their unique designs with ease.

The first run-through of the English Learners course at Penn State Berks' Langan Launch Box facility ended up as a tremendous success. All 11 students from various walks of life, some of which do not speak English at all, were able to successfully design and fabricate individualized 3D-Printed name-plates for themselves. 

A small victory but nonetheless a step in the right direction by teaching local community members the skills required to succeed in the next industrial revolution. Who knows, Reading Pennsylvania might just be home to the next industrial 3D-Printing facility.

Special thanks to: Paul Esqueda, Ed Sauer, Walt Fullam, Erica Kunkel, Joe Sinclair, and Solange Israel-Mintz for being the driving forces to bring this program to the community of Reading.

 

Interested in learning about Solid Innovations' vision? Check out our blog!