By Andrea Paolo Rossi and Oliviero Zondini, Rotary Club of Cesena in Italy and global grant project leads
Our Rotary Club of Cesena is big with more than 100 members who represent the rich culture and strengths of our region. The local economy in Cesena is centered around agriculture and the manufacturing industry, in particular mechanics, manufacturing, and construction equipment. These companies must remain innovative to compete in the global market. Our region has high unemployment rates among youth coupled with manufacturing companies can’t find skilled workers.
To address this concern, we decided to focus on educating local high school students about the skills they need to establish a career in the manufacturing industry. The project aimed to create a 3D print lab for the Technical School. We partnered with FabLab Romagna to provide training for the students. FabLab Romagna, headquartered conveniently near the school, works with the international network of fab labs, small-scale workshops offering personal digital fabrication. Fab labs began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) to provide access to modern innovation technologies.
The project was presented in September 2014 at the 8th Multi-Club Workshop in Ischia, where we met Serbian Rotarians who presented a project with similar characteristics. A partnership was formed from which two global grants were born with the Rotary Club of Cesena and Rotary Club of Beograd-Skadarlija each serving as the local host for their respective project and as the international partner supporting each other’s efforts.
In May 2015, our club’s project was presented to local authorities and citizens of Cesena during the Rotary Romagna Festival. Twelve clubs from our district committed to contribute their time and service to the project. Our artisan association, Confartigianato, supported the project by providing needed consumable materials for the lab.
The Rotary Foundation approved our global grant in June 2016, and in February 2017 the equipment was officially handed over to the school with a public ceremony in which students and teachers presented about their experiences using the fab lab. Our Serbian partners also attended this event.
The project, valued at $60,650 USD, is now in full swing. The training courses held with FabLab Romagna allow students of different ages and classes to work together to develop a project under the supervision of a fab lab technician. The 3D printers are self- assembled with electronic and mechanical components. Course participants learn to manage the entire supply chain, from starting the project with computer graphics through to the creation of the final product. The students themselves then become teachers to other students. Students also participate in educational trainings at the local manufacturing companies.
The project will continue throughout the 2017-18 school year, after which the Technical School will have a full 3D printing laboratory and technical expertise to continue training students in an increasing technologically-demanding world of mechanics. But what is most important, these students will learn a method of work that will make them leaders of a changing global industry.