HUNTINGTON — Middle and high school students from across the Tri-State area this week participated in the Robert C. Byrd Institute's 3D Printing and Maker Camp, gaining hands-on experience with 3D design, printing and assembly, coding, soldering, electromagnetism, hydraulics, basic electronics and various other skills and subjects.

As the theme of the five-day camp was entrepreneurship, students were also given a presentation and tour of the manufacturing area at local computer technology company Blue Ink Tech. Each participant received a Raspberry Pi microcomputer and completed three 3D printing projects, including printing a case to hold the new microcomputers, a key chain and an object of their own choosing.

Several students said designing and printing an original object was their favorite portion of the camp. On Friday afternoon, they had the opportunity to present their various projects to friends and family members.

Tanner Kelly, a 13-year-old, recently finished eighth grade at Milton Middle School, where he participated in robotics all three years he attended. He said he first became interested in robotics because his father is an engineer. Kelly said some of his favorite parts of the camp were designing several 3D prints, touring Blue Ink Tech and learning more about entrepreneurship.

"Entrepreneurship is different for everybody," Kelly said. "But for me, it's about having the resources, time and patience to take a leap of faith or a risk to grow something from scratch."

Among many technological lessons learned by students throughout the week, one of the most important was regarding the power of manufacturing, said Deacon Stone, Maker Space and STEM coordinator at the Robert C. Byrd Institute.

"Manufacturing is where making meets scale. We can take a single thing and turn it into a thousand things, or we can take a small thing and turn it into the size of a skyscraper," he said. "And I think we've had experiences like that this week."

Students also left the camp having experienced and learned about the effectiveness and empowerment of dedicated cooperation and community-building.

"Campers have been exposed to wild and crazy people who love to see things made and who love to teach people to make things," Deacon said. "We learned an understanding of the fact that it is incumbent upon us to share what we learn with other people to connect with our community and fellow makers. We can grow further and faster working together."

Upcoming events with the Robert C. Byrd Institute include a Python Coding Camp from July 15-19 in South Charleston, a 3D Printing and Maker Camp from July 22-26 in Bridgeport and the sixth annual West Virginia Makes Festival and Innovation Competition on Oct. 4 at Marshall University's Memorial Student Center. For more information or to sign up for the camps, visit www.wvmakes.com.

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