Story by Sonja Bailes , Public Relations Liaison for Bossier Schools
As three-dimensional objects were spat from an open source 3D printer at DigiFest South, the wheels turning inside the minds of Bossier Parish middle school gifted students and those in Robotics and the Talented Arts Program were almost audible. Oh, the possibilities.
What began as a computer-designed image or scan took the shape of someone’s face in a matter of minutes; nose, lips, chin and all. Matt Hooper, owner of Arklatex 3D Technology, said in today’s technological age, the applications are endless.
“It’s engineering,” Hooper explained. “They learn to draw 3D models, which leads into blueprints and machining. 3D printing is now used with concrete. It can be used for drafting, printing and AutoCAD.”
DigiFest South, sponsored last month by Bossier Arts Council at CenturyLink Center, opened students’ eyes to the many ways science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can merge with art. Vendors manned booths, exhibiting the once unimaginable career opportunities available that might spark young peoples’ interest in creative and technical courses of study.
These students won’t have to wait until after high school, though, before exploring the many applications of technology. Once Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning opens in Fall 2015, the expanded curriculum will offer a large repertoire of choices that integrate STEM.
“What we’re looking at is animation, drafting, Advanced Placement studio art, engineering, bio-technology and video production, to name a few,” Jayda Spillers, Principal of BPSTIL, said. “We want to appeal to students’ interests.”
John Johnson has taught Graphic Arts at Bossier’s technical school for the last 16 years, but spent 19 before that working professionally in the industry. The transformation his trade has seen during that time is like night and day, making it exciting to expose today’s students of the vast possibilities.
“The digital world opened up a lot of things,” Johnson explained. “Before, you had a sign painter. Now, you can design a sign on a computer and print it out. You have digital printers now that can print a full sheet of plywood in a matter of minutes, just like you would print on paper. Ultimately, there was a lot of handwork that was done. Now, it amazes me what you can do, sitting before a computer screen.”
With the addition of animation to BPSTIL’s curriculum, which is used in movie production and gaming design and software, Johnson envisions his own program growing because it is a springboard of sorts.
“There is a lot of cross-over (in this industry) and I think that’s what we are striving to do,” he said. “If students want to go toward animation, they need to take Graphic Arts I beforehand, because you’ll have to teach some of the basic skills in order to go into the other end of it.”
Johnson added, “As I tell my students on their first day, we are the most important class because there is no business I know that exists that doesn’t utilize graphic arts.”