Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Rapid Prototyping Journal, Volume 14, Issue 2.
I have written previously about the need to expand the use of rapid prototyping within pre-college education. This is dependent upon the uptake of 3D CAD, which, certainly in the UK, is continuing to advance. A worrying development here is that the subject through which most high-school students learn CAD, design and technology, is no longer a compulsory part of our national curriculum for students aged between 14 and 16. This could mean that fewer students will take this on as one of their final subjects and hence miss out on major CAD exposure. This could also have a knock-on effect on the numbers of students applying for engineering courses (which is already on the decline). I have heard of similar problems in other parts of the world. Therefore, we need to continue efforts to raise the profile of rapid prototyping in schools to show that design and engineering is an interesting and worthwhile career to pursue. Good news in this respect is that the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' “Design for Direct Digital Manufacturing” competition has this year been given a specific category for high-school students. It will be interesting to see how much involvement this will attract. Winners in this category and also for college/ university students will be announced at the RAPID Conference and Exposition in Florida on 20-22 May. Another positive sign on school RP awareness is that my own co-operation with a local high school in Nottingham attracted more interest than last year. This year, students actually created their own CAD designs, rather than just copying an example CAD model given by their teacher, and one of these was built on our dimension machine. The co- operation was reported in the school magazine as a prime example of how the school is exposing its students to “hi-tech” processes. Further, RP builds to support student design projects are planned for 2008. As always, funding the builds is an issue that causes some difficulty with most UK schools having a tight teaching budget. They would love to have their own RP machine but current costs are still too high. An interesting development that might offer help is the Fab@Home machine presented in Vol. 13 No. 4 of the Rapid Prototyping Journal (RPJ). This is an affordable RP machine that will offer schools a low-cost opportunity to demonstrate the main principles of additive fabrication to their students. Other low-cost machines are in the pipeline. Perhaps, this will be the key to unlocking further RP uptake within high schools and perhaps even primary education.
Manuscript Central, the new online electronic submission system for the RPJ is now up and running and is performing well. It offers a more robust and comprehensive service to authors, reviewers and editors, alike. It is a big improvement over the previous JADE system in terms of ease-of-use and has already resulted is a shortening of average review times. However, there is always room for improvement and any feedback on the interface and usability from authors and reviewers will be greatly appreciated.