One of our Vice Presidents at 3D Systems, Rajeev Kulkarni, would always expose 3D printing technology to his two young sons, Rithik 8 and Rishi 10 years old. They were interested in how the technology works and creating all different kinds of toys and objects using the Cube 3D printer at home and also visiting their father in the 3D Systems office.
In September 2011, 3D Systems and Rajeev had just started developing the Cube 3D printer. At that time, Rajeev used to take the prototype home every weekend and give it to his sons - Rishi and Rithik to just watch them use it. He would then gather the notes based on their usage pattern and also have them write out their likes/dislikes and requirements. Then Rajeev would bring them back and share them with the team so that they could tweak the design based on kids using it. This process was several weeks long and helped the team at 3D Systems create the Cube. Both Rishi and Rithik loved looking at and learning about these machines that had the power to create almost any object they wanted.
(This photo was the first "requirements/feedback" that the boys had given him. Written on a notepad in pencil.)
Rajeev would always encourage his sons to think outside the box and have an entrepreneurial mind; so this January, Rajeev, and Rishi attended a local event called the Charlotte Startup Weekend, which consists of many business minded people pitching different entrepreneurial ideas for a startup company. They came prepared and Rishi pitched an idea for a company called Wiz Kids Draft, which would basically be a LinkedIn for students to help them make online profiles that different colleges could look at and help guide them to what qualities they would look for in a potential student. This would assist colleges in an early recruitment process in which they could give feedback to students and what activities and the academic level they would be looking for.
After pitching his idea to over 100 adults in the group, he came in second place after spending all weekend developing his idea. At 10 years old, he is already ambitious and wants to become an entrepreneur in some sort of technology space. By exposing children to an interesting industry like 3D printing at an early age, they became enthusiastic and interested in learning about the science and technology behind it, which will probably influence them to what they want to become in the future.
Read more about this story on the Charlotte Observer website here.