The Mahindra Group, one of India’s largest multinational conglomerate holding companies, has just launched its newest pilot project: a specialized 3D printing program for semi-urban and rural schools in India.
Mahindra will donate 3D printers to the schools, beginning with the B.M. Pawar School in Chakan, as part of a comprehensive training program that educates teachers and students in the many applications of additive manufacturing technology.
We see 3D printing as the future of technology and a potent tool to help bridge the tech divide between urban and rural India. Through this project, we seek to inspire young minds to think creatively and open up a whole world of possibilities for themselves and their community,” said Mahindra Group President (IT Sector) and Chief Technology Officer Ulhas Yargop. “While this is still a proof of concept, we hope it will ultimately reach more schools and offer potential employment opportunities in design and prototyping.”
Currently two teachers from the B.M. Pawar School have been trained in 3D printing tech, who will then teach Std. XI students (ages 15-18) as part of a three-month certified course. The program seeks to enable students to gain proficiency in 3D printing, including both the design process and ideation.
Students will also be encouraged to create prototypes of their ideas, as part of developing an overall mindset towards design, innovation, and computational thinking. The program will culminate in a design challenge where students can showcase their work.
Guest faculty will also feature strongly in the student training, including Dr. S. Venugopal of Mahindra Research Valley and professors from Indian Institute of Technology Madras and the National Institute of Design. According to a press release, this initiative aims to culminate in “the creation of an eco-system which will enable experimentation and creativity while providing the students with the basic skills required to use this technology to its full potential.”
Although much 3D printing development comes out of Europe and North America, The Mahindra Group is keen to bring these advantages to India, as “developing economies can also harness the potential of this affordable and possibly life-saving technology to help them leapfrog highly capital intensive manufacturing.”
Mahindra’s rural education initiative comes as part of India’s ballooning involvement in the additive manufacturing industry. This summer it was reported that India’s 3D printing prototyping and materials market is expected to reach $62 million by the year 2022. As the logical next step, increased investment in 3D printing education resources will prove key to that economic growth. If successful, initiatives like Mahindra’s pilot program may continue to grow.