13th June 2018

STEM overdose? 3D printing provides relief

Schools and universities cover a wide range of subjects because providing a balance of academic and practical education develops well-rounded citizens, who are able to contribute to and add value to their industry and community. In addition, they are likely to be more successful in their chosen profession where soft skills such as written and verbal communication, creative thinking and an appreciation of diverse cultures and complex relationships are desperately needed.

Commercial Respect of Soft Skills

Companies are starting to take an interest in these soft skills, including cultural anthropology. Renowned brands have realized that despite globalization, there is a real need to understand cultural differences rather than assume a one-size fits all and that cultural differences are far from irrelevant. The likes of Intel, Microsoft and Coca-Cola see that understanding these nuances can make the difference between success and failure. In a recent article in the Financial Times, Gillian Tett looked at how Coca-Cola used anthropology to turn around its failed launch of its sugary, fruit tea products.  Understanding that tea—like meditation—plays an important role in Chinese culture, caused Coca-Cola to rethink its product. They removed distractions such as sugar and flavorings, gaining substantial market share following this modification.


From: “An Anthropologist in the Boardroom”, Gillian Tett, FT.Com, April 2017.

3D Printing Encourages Soft Skills

So how can we help bring these students who are overdosing on coding and math equations back into the real world? Instructors need to explore creative methods to overcome this challenge and one such method is, ironically, a popular STEM teaching tool, the 3D printer.

A growing number of schools and universities are rapidly adopting 3D printing. A key driver of adoption is the need to improve student engagement. The technology enables students to actively participate in the lesson, interacting directly with the subject matter and bridging the gap between knowledge and experience. Coordinating the use of 3D printing across multiple subjects can also help students connect topics and gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the world around them.

The table below demonstrates how 3D printing can bring subjects to life. Using 3D printing in areas such as music, literature and art, teachers can engage and develop well-rounded students who will be able to excel in further education and the workplace.

3D Printing & Soft Skills Development

As corporations develop a growing respect for soft skills, students need to be supported in attaining a balanced education. Developing both academic and practical knowledge is key for young people be successful in their future careers. As schools look for ways to bridge the gap between knowledge and experience they are increasingly using 3D printing to help them on their journey. By using 3D printing in all subjects, including music and literature teachers can engage students more actively in the lesson, giving young people the best chance to excel in further education and the workplace.



Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic