At the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, the hum of 3D printers and laser cutters blends with ideas building inside the minds of students.
At a new Engineering Lab and “Design Den” located at the academy, young artists, engineers and entrepreneurs work together to create products and goods.
“This is by far my best class in school,” said Gerardo Chavarria, a senior. “It is just so cool that I am able to have the opportunity to create what I see in my head.”
The new “maker space” allows students to take ideas and turn them into products that can be marketed, said Barton Scott, lead STEM instructor for YMLA’s engineering program. Students skilled in arts, sciences and business marketing work together in the space to turn ideas into innovation.
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Modern technology combines with the skills of math, writing, science and business to operate the Design Den, Scott said.
Scott said the “collaborative workspace” allows students to make real world connections by asking questions such as “How do we communicate the value of our product?” or “How do we calculate net profit?”
Students are working on T-shirts, laser engraved boxes, plaques, bumper stickers and other products they plan to sell at the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival next spring. The money generated will be reinvested into the program, Scott said.
The space was funded with a $210,000 donation from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation and the YMLA Community Advisory Board. The campus held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the space on Monday.
“We had the brain capacity, but we didn’t have the materials,” said Omar Yanez, a sophomore. “Now, we can do whatever our mind pleases.”