University of Canterbury 3D printing and scanning experts are keen to show high-school pupils that with modern
technology the only limit is your imagination.
With the help of an Unlocking Curious Minds government grant for almost $30,000, engineering academics Dr Don Clucas and
Dr Stefanie Gutschmidt will invite 60 Year 9 students and ten teachers from ten local lower decile schools to take part
in a three-day workshop at the University of Canterbury (UC) next month.
The teachers and school pupils will gain first-hand experience using state-of-the-art 3D printing and 3D scanning
equipment. As well as learning about exciting new technology, including virtual and augmented reality, 3D scanning and
laser cutting at UC’s College of Engineering, they will get the chance to learn directly from local engineering industry
Previously, Dr Clucas, Senior Lecturer in Design and Manufacturing, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UC,
has 3D-printed a prosthetic foot for a penguin amputee at the Antarctic Centre, and 3D-scanned and reproduced items from
UC’s priceless Logie Collection of antiquities, thousands of years old.
This year, Dr Clucas and Dr Gutschmidt have moved from 3D printing ancient Greek cups and penguins feet to helping
dozens of school pupils get to grips with engineering.
“We know from our statistics that certain ethnic and social groups, especially from lower decile schools, and females,
are significantly under-represented in our engineering intake. We know that ability-wise there is no fundamental reason
why these people should not be able to succeed in achieving a tertiary degree,” Dr Clucas says.
With this initiative, they aim to increase diversity among future tertiary students in engineering disciplines.
“Innovation through stirred curiosity and thinking is so important to our future economy and society that we need to
give more encouragement and guidance to the next generation of potential engineers. With this small workshop on our turf
at UC we are reaching out to pupils that may not have either the facilities that higher decile schools have or the
family, peer or community support needed to successfully take on the challenge of tertiary education,” Dr Gutschmidt
The mechanical engineering academics say the ultimate aim is to inspire and guide the young students and demonstrate
that there is no fundamental reason why they cannot succeed at university, providing they prepare themselves at
secondary school by studying science and maths, and keep their natural curiosity alive.
“We’re not aiming at the top achieving or older students who have likely already decided their path. We want to inspire
the students who are showing good promise with science, maths and technology, and could benefit from a bit of
encouragement. At this stage of their studies, Year 9 students still have the chance to choose their subjects wisely and
part of our goal is to give them some direction.”
Dr Clucas says the decision to also include ten teachers is so that knowledge and inspiration is spread to other Year 9
pupils and older students.
“We want to sustain the momentum and motivation gained from these few days. This way we capture a far greater pool of
The 60 students will be split into three streams: general mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and
mechatronics. Over three days, 26 - 28 April, the streams will cycle between activities, including 3D printing, virtual
and augmented reality, 3D scanning and laser cutting. Each stream will also visit an engineering industry organisation
featuring degree-qualified engineers working on the students’ bias topics.
“We will also have industry experts giving short talks and helping with the workshops. All students will take away items
they have made, and hopefully they will inspire other students at their schools.”
The event will end with a prize-giving where family, whanau and caregivers can come and see what the students have
achieved, Dr Clucas says.
Unlocking Curious Minds is a cross-agency programme of work led by MBIE, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the
Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced the funding in