“Grand Challenges” in 3D

I am fascinated about the profound changes impacting the create/modify/make ecosystem. In a prior blog I outlined some these profound shifts ultimately resulting in a true democratization of 3D and technologies.

See – http://www.geomagic.com/en/community/beyond-the-box/the-storm-clouds-on-the-horizon/. In many ways Geomagic technology fits squarely at the intersection between the democratization of these technologies.

Yesterday [this blog was originally published on April 16th, 2012], Thomas Kalil, the Deputy Director for Policy, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave a speech and presentation outlining the historical context of “Grand Challenges”.  You can find the “Grand Challenges” microsite here  – http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/12/grand-challenges-and-what-if#gov20 – it is absolutely worthwhile to watch his presentation, or at the very least read through the text and skim the slides which are linked through here.

In this speech Mr. Kalil first gives historical context for how prizes (public and private sector) have long spurred innovation, what the attributes are and what benefits result from “grand challenges” when properly run.

In the second part of his speech, he highlights various “what if. . .?” scenarios.   These cross many industries and needs, but I found two particularly interesting, where he asks what if:

We reduce the time required to design, build and test manufactured products by a factor of 5, while dramatically increasing the number of product designers and entrepreneurs who make things?

We put the tools to design and make just about anything (e.g. 3-D printers, TechShops, Maker Sheds, FabLabs) at the fingertips of every child?

These two questions are of course interrelated and thought provoking.

Enabling and empowering a generation of “makers” will serve to spur the creative juices of an entire new crop of product designers who know how to, and what to, make “things.”  Getting 3D capture, modeling and manufacturing technologies into the hands of students will unleash the next generation of entrepreneurs and demonstrate, in a very tangible way, that education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects is not only interesting, but incredibly fun as well.   Letting students “feel” their digital models, through haptic touch enabled devices, and then letting them “print” actual physical representations of those creations will unlock imaginations and unleash creativity.

We are in very exciting times – I can’t wait to see what my 9 and 10 year olds will design and produce next!