October 2012

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The 3D Printer CLub was announced to day at an all-school meeting to great interest and enthusiastic applause! The promotional video was shown, and many of the scenes with 3D printed objects got oohs and ahs. The director of the school came up to talk a bit about the club idea, and the kids seemed particularly excited about the “pay it forward” component, reacting with cheers and applause. By all measures, it was a great success!


Today Jacob stood up in front of a big group of adults and presented our collective work on getting a 3D Printer Club up and running at his elementary school. He showed the video we worked on, and although we had some technical difficulties with sound, it was very well received. Many of the “Easter egg” scenes got some big laughs, and one of the members even recognized the math at the end.


Today we met with the director of the school and our teach sponsor about our 3D Printer Club plan, and the meeting went very well. We brought samples of 3D printed materials, and we talked for about an hour about the technology, the possibilities it opens up, and the educational opportunities it presents. We also talked a bit about what a successful club might look like — perhaps building newer 3D printer models, or expanding to other machines like eggbots (a drawing robot) and robots, or even to other general “maker” interests like fixing lamps, and just taking things apart to see how they work.

The director agreed to supply some seed funding to help get the club off the ground, and seemed very interested in the “pay it forward” goal of the club.


The members of the 3D Printer Club are broken up into several teams, each performing an important role. Each team has two key players: the primary lead, and the secondary lead (or apprentice). The primary lead is always at least one grade level higher than the secondary. Each team also has an adult adviser, whose job is to help the team members succeed on their own.

Here are the key roles:

Build Master (Build Team): The Build Master needs to work very well with other club members. He or she is responsible for keeping the project running smoothly and coordinating communication among team members. This student must have a keen understanding of the build process and work closely with the BOM Manager to identify which parts are needed and when. The Build Master must keep communication going even outside of regular meetings.

  • Develop and manage the build schedule
  • Keep up frequent and meaningful communication with other team members
  • Provide status updates as required by other members

Accountant (Accounting Team): The accountant needs to be very detailed oriented and good at math, including percentages. He or she will be responsible for the overall budget and keeping track of money coming in and going out. All purchases must be approved in advance by the accountant, and the accountant should provide regular updates to the Blogger. The accountant must work closely with the BOM Manager in order to keep the project on budget.

  • Keep a detailed accounting of funds and transactions
  • Manage the overall budget
  • Approve expenses
  • Provide biweekly status reports

BOM Manager (Materials Team): The BOM Manager needs to be very detail oriented and good at managing tabular data. He or she will be responsible for managing the Bill of Materials (BOM), which is a list of the all the parts we need, have on hand, and have received, as well as their expected costs and when they’ll be needed for the project. The BOM Manager will need to work closely with the Accountant and the Build Master to be sure the project is kept in budget and ensure that parts are available when they’re required.

  • Keep and manage a detailed BOM (costs, required dates, etc)
  • Secure parts on time and on budget
  • Provide biweekly status reports

Blogger / P.R. Manager (P.R. Team): This person needs to be an effective verbal and written communicator, and will be responsible for providing detailed updates on build progress and challenges to the rest of the world. He or she will need to work close with the Build Master and have a good general understanding of where the team is on the project at any given time. He or she will be the primary student contact for outsiders who are seeking more information about the project, and also be in charge of capturing the progress on camera (still and video).

  • Write and publish detailed status updates, at least biweekly
  • Develop and provide promotional materials to interested parties
  • Photograph and video project progress

Membership Coordinator (Membership Team): This student must have good “people skills” and have a keen understanding of who is on the team and what their roles are. Should positions open up or should extra help be required in some areas, this person will be responsible for helping to recruit the help that is necessary. He or she will work closely with the Build Master, Faculty Advisors, and SMEs to this end.

  • Keep and manage a list of members and roles
  • Recruit to fill open positions

Maker-Operators: The rest of the team is made up of Makers—these are the researchers, engineers, builders, designers, and helpers who make the whole project possible. They work closely with many other team members, where necessary, to carry out the work that needs to be done. This may include doing research, creating documents, sourcing materials, ordering/making parts, experimenting with build techniques, designing modifications or enhancements, troubleshooting, and learning everything they can about how to operate, troubleshoot, and repair the machines or inventions that the club produces.