‘ALIEN TECH’: The VIRTUAL Becomes REALITY with a 3D printer

Daniel Alspach, a senior at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northeast, pushed his chair away from his Computer Aided Design (CAD) of a car body, and gestured to the school’s new Afinia H800 3D printer.


OSTC NE student Daniel Alspach

The image on his screen would emerge as solid car parts from the printer, enabling Daniel and his team to build a micro-electric vehicle for an upcoming high school STEM competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

“The 3D printer is amazing,” said Daniel. “It’s like alien technology.”


The space-age Afinia printer was donated to OSTC Northeast by SME, in recognition of the school’s participation in SME manufacturing and career awareness activities including Oakland County’s Manufacturing Day.

SME’s student outreach programs are part of its commitment to serving the manufacturing industry by promoting advanced manufacturing technology and developing a skilled workforce.

Daniel’s team-members were busy with other pieces of the micro-electric vehicle construction. Several worked to create the all-important electrical boards.


OSTC generates a lot of participation among its Engineering and Emerging Technology (EET) students; seventeen micro-electric car teams vie for six team spots in order to represent the school and attend the SAE competition.


Normally, with seventeen teams it would take days to hard-print all of the micro-electric car parts. The powerfully fast Afinia H800 3D printer will make it possible for all teams to fabricate their prototypes and test their electrical systems.


“Our EET students design, prototype and fabricate a product, just like in industry,” commented OSTC Instructor Demetrius Wilson.


“We spend seven weeks on the micro-electric car project, where most schools start working on this back in September. OSTC student teams medal at the competition consistently, because our design process is so solid. The 3D printer from SME is going to help our students take the next step in advanced manufacturing technology.”

American manufacturing is currently experiencing a growing skills gap – an inability to fill positions with technologically experienced and qualified workers. SME works with schools and industry across the nation to make new technologies like 3D printing, advanced robotics and other technologies accessible and interesting to students, parents, teachers and institutions.

“Our educators are really excited about receiving a 3D printer for our school,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools.

“Our Oakland Schools Technical Campuses provide students with hands-on experience in growing industries. Support from organizations like SME and Afinia allow us to provide wonderful opportunities to our students.”


OSTC Instructor Demetrius Wilson with SME Representative Debbie Holten, the Afinia 3D printer and  and OSTC NE Engineering & Emerging Technology Students


Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (in Royal Oak, Wixom, Pontiac, Clarkston)




Blog Editor: Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools


 Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000





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