Batch Foundation introduces ‘3D Printing’ to Steel Valley students

FORMER PITTSBURGH STEELER CHARLIE BATCH shares a fun moment with one of the students in the Best of the Batch Foundation. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)

by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer

Have you heard about the new craze, 3D Printing?

Students in the Best of the Batch Foundation not only have heard about it, they’re experimenting with it and are producing tangible results.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D printing is currently used in industries such as: automotive, aviation, space travel, health care, and the military. It’s expected to become a $35 billion industry in itself by 2025.

Friday, Oct. 11, at the Best of the Batch Foundation building in Munhall, students from the foundation—which was founded by former Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch—showed off some of the products that they made via 3D printing, such as eyeglasses, Pittsburgh bridge replicas, and even the Eiffel Tower.

“We did a couple programs over the years where a lot of kids didn’t realize they were gifted in architecture,” Batch told the New Pittsburgh Courier, Oct. 11. “We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to bring some of those things to the kids,’ let them start thinking outside of the box so to speak. And now, when they’re drawing, and they’re able to take that and print it out, it’s like, ‘I just did that yesterday…that’s me?’ ‘Yes,’ and you can see the smiles on their faces.”

ELIZABETH, a student at the Best of the Batch Foundation, shows the Steelers logo she made using new “3D Printing” technology. (Photo by Courier photographer Rob Taylor Jr.)

Elizabeth, a 13-year-old student in the Best of the Batch Foundation, used a 3D printing pen to make a Steelers handheld logo. She said she comes to the Batch Foundation building on West Street almost every day. “It keeps me calm, company and gives me somebody to talk to,” Elizabeth said.

Batch told the Courier that he was introduced to 3D Printing a few years ago and wanted to make sure the more than 1,100 students that physically come into the Batch Foundation building yearly are aware of the new technology.

“We understand that most schools these students attend don’t have the means, or resources to access cutting-edge technology that will give them a heads up in the classroom,” Batch said. “By connecting the kids to something like 3D printing, we not only are engaging them through an interactive activity that’s fun and educational, but setting them up for jobs across several industries, including manufacturing, medicine and space.”

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programs are an important part of the Best of the Batch Foundation. The nonprofit organization promotes problem-solving skills through different STEAM “challenges,” one of which is having students build the tallest structure possible using only a box of toothpicks and a bag of mini marshmallows. “By participating in these STEAM challenges, Best of the Batch Foundation strives to nurture students’ unique skill sets that allow them to learn in alternative ways,” according to the Batch Foundation website.

The Best of the Batch Foundation, which began in January 1999, is celebrating 20 years of service to youth ages 4-18, and Batch said the organization is expanding into a space next door—26,000 square feet of space to be exact—which will feature a full-size gymnasium with walkaround track, three activity rooms, a grow and eat garden, cyber café, state-of-the-art STEAM lab, gaming room, and dance studio. The new building should be completed by summer 2020.

All programs that the Best of the Batch Foundation provides are free to the youth. Batch said 3,800 students, many of whom are students in the Steel Valley school system, are impacted by the foundation’s programs annually. He told the Courier that giving area youth positive alternatives is what he and the foundation are all about. “I lost my sister (Danyl Settles) in 1996 to senseless gang violence throughout Homestead, and at that point I said if I was ever in a position to give back, I would…this is a way to give back, and make sure that we give the youth other options than what they’re seeing on a regular basis.”


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