An aerospace engineering student provides perspective on the future.
GUEST COLUMN | by Thomas Schumacher
I have heard that technology is the future of education. Now that I have used it extensively, I am convinced that technology is the future of education. In my two years of college and my senior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to use 3D printers and a variety of programs that have taken my education to the next level. Currently, I am studying Aerospace engineering at San Jose State University. I previously studied basic engineering as a student of a local community college. I have used 3D printers for prototyping, manufacturing and learning. Over the past summer, I took the opportunity to repair a printer. Through looking at every part and every process, I have learned so much about how dissimilar materials interact with each other and how different technologies can interact to make great tools.
I have heard that technology is the future of education. Now that I have used it extensively, I am convinced that technology is the future of education.
As an example, when I was designing a boat for a race, I used printed parts on the final model and they worked beyond my every expectation. In my build, I used materials from hard materials to elastic materials. It was great! Every time my team and I tested our boat, we had minor setbacks but that didn’t deter us, we would use every bit of current technology and older technology to solve our problems no matter how hard or easy the problem was. The key for me is using technology to make the problem-solving process easier and more complete.
In addition to 3D printing, I have been exposed to 3D modeling software and computer science programs that have allowed me to explore many different techniques of design. I am primarily a design-based student and enjoy having a physical aspect to my education. With the 3D modeling software, I can move from conceptual ideas to a 3D printer and test my handy work with little turnaround time, an engineering student’s dream come true. As you are reading this, I am probably learning some crazy material like the structure of a wing or the physics of heat. What technology allows me to do with my education is the true education, applying my new skills to my latest ideas.
Where can a student use technology to improve their learning? The internet! I use the internet daily, as I assume many people do. This allows me to ask a question and answer it in a matter of minutes. I use it for things like learning new techniques in my modeling software to watching chemistry videos so I will be successful in that class. Another benefit I have found with technology is the ability to collaborate with colleagues and run a meeting smoothly from the other side of town. I can effectively video call a group and run a meeting for any project.
I have learned the relevance of technology and the internet in the world is overwhelming in its many applications. But many students are limited in their use of these resources due to budget shortages and older schools of thought. Due to the use of technology in my classrooms, I am an advocate for increased use of technological devices and resources in all classrooms and all households. Every student should be able to have the same exposure to every resource possible to maximize potential.
The greatest effect of technology I see in my life the most as of now would be the drive to learn more using all the technology I have at my disposal, currently my laptop and 3D printer. Every time I start working on/with them, I go head long and learn something big or small. I have learned that the way to enjoy technology is to use it to my advantage, to use it to learn and expand my skillset. The one thing I wish that technology could do is to write for me! I continue to learn using technology, I do this by studying new things that I come across, hence the 3D printers.
Technology has its limits, but the places it can take me on my path to gaining knowledge far outweigh its limitations. My hours of 3D printing, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi have truly allowed me to learn countless skills and little gems of knowledge, as well as the ability to help people when needed. Technology has also taught me how to disconnect when needed, allowing me to be able to use technology in my mind, think about it while not on it. Technology is a benefit to my education and has thus benefitted my life as well.
Thomas Schumacher is an aerospace engineering student at San Jose State University. Write to: [email protected]