MakerBot has found itself in numerous roles with different targeted audiences in its short existence, from quirky startup targeting hardcore makers, to joining the big leagues after being acquired by one of the big two 3D printing brands (Stratasys). After going closed source, much of the maker community that brought them to the top of the pack in desktop 3D printing moved on to other options that continued to allow them to tinker with their machines (often more than actually printing with them). The company shifted their focus toward professionals who would be using their machines to create prototypes and products. They also focused more on education and how 3D printers could be used in the classroom.
Now, MakerBot has doubled down on that effort and is launching a new certification program for educators. The certification is split into two courses: MakerBot Operator and MakerBot Curriculum Creator. The Operator course teaches the basics of how to use a MakerBot 3D printer, from getting started with the machine through basic 3D modeling, and finishing with machine troubleshooting. This is a great resource for anyone new to 3D printing and is not applicable strictly to teachers. The Curriculum Creator portion of the certification really hones in on what an educator using a 3D printer might need to know to be successful integrating it into their classroom. While the MakerBot Education program already offers lesson plans and other resources to educators, the Curriculum Creator course gives educators the tools to bring all of the offerings together to write their own curriculum around 3D printing.
While this is not the first program created by a 3D printing company with educators in mind, MakerBot is pushing a step further with their certification program qualifying as CEU credits in many states, helping teachers with their professional development. This push may encourage more educators to make the decision to bring MakerBot printers into their classrooms, a choice that at one time was a defacto, but has since become less cut and dry.
The certification can be achieved solely online or via a blend of online and in-person experience. While the in-person training currently requires you to come to the MakerBot offices in Brooklyn, NY, I spoke with the team at MakerBot and they expressed their plan to expand their ability to offer face to face training in more locations. This program is entirely free to educators who purchase a bundle (which includes a printer, filament, and MakerCare). It goes for $99 online or $199 blended without a qualifying purchase.
The MakerBot education team has been working with educators to find what they need to be successful with 3D printing in the classroom, and this newest offering brings all of that research together. Educators can begin signing up now.