RAMP MD Executive Director Rick Decker keynoted a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) workshop at River Hill High School in Howard County on January 11, 2018. Attended by about 60 students, teachers, and parents, the workshop was designed to educate Pre-Engineering students about opportunities in product development fields. Rick spoke specifically about the growth of additive manufacturing and educational and career opportunities for students with additive manufacturing experience.
The field of additive manufacturing is poised for enormous growth and ability to transform manufacturing as we know it. Nationally, the additive manufacturing market has grown from $1B in 2012, to $8.8B in 2017, and is expected to grow to $26.5B in 2021. It represents an enormous growth opportunity for Maryland because of the critical mass of capability that is already located within the state – defense, aerospace, bio-medical, and other sectors.
In fact, the geographic co-location of the biotechnology and additive manufacturing industries positions Maryland to be the “Silicon Valley” of medical device, prosthetics, wearable technology, and tissue engineering.
The number of job advertisements calling for 3D printing skills has increased by 1,834% since 2010. Jobs available for students with two-year degrees include CAD designer, technician, or engineering tech. Jobs with four-year degrees include industrial engineers, mechanical engineers, software developers, and industrial designers.
Schools in Maryland offer many opportunities to pursue educational credentials leading to jobs in the additive manufacturing field. Two community colleges specifically offer additive manufacturing degrees: Community College of Baltimore County and Harford Community College. At the university level, there are many opportunities for undergraduate degrees not specifically in additive manufacturing but related to AM – industrial design, product design, mechanical engineering, even art and sculpture. Towson University has the Object Lab, which is a resource for its art students. Advanced graduate degrees in additive manufacturing are now available at University of Maryland and Penn State.
“Additive Manufacturing is an exciting and creative field where you don’t have to work behind a desk and there are many opportunities for students of all levels of education,” Rick said. “Get experience making things – that’s the best educational pathway there is. Learn Solidworks and then augment that experience with formal education.”
Rick also discussed internships and that students should look at small businesses as a source of excellent hands-on internships. His advice was to look for small engineering services firms. RAMP MD JWS holders Root3Labs, RPM Tech, Repliform, and Danko Arlington, are examples of firms that hire interns.