BROWNWOOD – April 14, 2016 – “Anyone who wants to be forward thinking and will do the work to raise the funds should get a 3D printer,” said 12-year-old Mo Goff, past participant in Howard Payne University’s Summer and Young Scholars camps. Mo purchased a printer in December after learning of the technology through HPU’s camps.
The popular summer camps, for students entering first through sixth grades, feature instruction in areas such as robotics, science, music and physical education. The sessions are taught by HPU faculty members and other area teachers. Throughout the camps, Mo, a seventh grader at Brownwood Middle School, found himself most interested in 3D printing, a session led by Dr. Lester Towell, professor of computer information systems and chair of the Department of Computer Information Systems at HPU.
Dr. Julie Welker, professor of communication and chair of HPU’s Department of Communication, directs the Summer and Young Scholars programs.
“We introduced the 3D printing class offered by Dr. Towell three years ago to supplement our other technology classes,” she said. “It has been a popular addition to our program.”
3D printers create three-dimensional objects by printing successive layers of a variety of materials including plastic, metal, ceramic and glass. An HPU undergraduate class, 3D Engineering Printing, was created around the technology. Dr. Towell volunteers with Summer and Young Scholars each year to expose even more young minds to such advances in science.
“Dr. Towell totally inspired me,” said Mo. “The first year of Summer Scholars, I thought 3D printers were really cool. By the second year, I thought ‘I should have one of these at home.’ By the end of Summer Scholars in fifth grade, I knew that could be a reality.”
Inspired to have his own printer at home, Mo consulted with Dr. Towell and decided on the MakerBot Replicator Mini.
“Other printers were tantalizingly less expensive,” said Mo. “But Dr. Towell encouraged me to go with the MakerBot because it is the most stable of all of the brands. Some of those other companies are out of business now.”
MakerBot’s hefty price tag presented a bit of a challenge, however. Mo’s parents, Drs. Sam Goff and Kylah Clark-Goff, knew it would be more meaningful to Mo if he was able to purchase the printer himself. Mo agreed.
“I thought about ways to make money,” he said. “I went through a lot of ideas and finally decided to sell granola.”
Mo makes the granola at home and delivers it to customers around town. An eight-ounce bag of the cranberry, apricot or peach granola sells for $5.
“Brownwood is such an amazing community,” said Dr. Clark-Goff. “People have just rallied behind him. They call or e-mail to let us know when they run out of granola and to tell us they need more. Mo will get on his bike and deliver it. He makes it himself and chose the packaging. He does it all. It’s his job.”
By December 2015, Mo had earned more than $1,000, enough money to purchase a printer. Dr. Towell visited the Goffs’ house to see the printer in action.
“Mo still frequently e-mails Dr. Towell and they compare notes on 3D printing,” said Dr. Clark-Goff.
Mo said he enjoys keeping in touch with Dr. Towell.
“It’s helped a lot,” he said. “He has sage advice. He’s a master of 3D printing.”
Though many consider 3D printers to be little more than an expensive toy, Mo envisions a bright future for the technology.
“3D printing doesn’t get all of the attention that it deserves,” he said. “I would say every household will have as many 3D printers as computers in a maximum of 50 years. I’m almost positive that one day it will be as big of a deal as the computer.”
Dr. Clark-Goff agreed.
“It looks like it prints a bunch of toys,” she said. “But in reality, it’s going to be something that you see in every area of society.”
Though he now has access to the technology every day, Mo is still appreciative of Dr. Towell’s teaching style throughout the summer camps at HPU.
“He’s truly amazing,” Mo said. “He makes you want to ask questions. I’ve learned a lot about 3D printing just from the way he teaches.”
Mo encourages other young people and their parents to consider HPU’s Summer and Young Scholars camps.
“They’re a lot of fun,” he said. “You go to Summer Scholars in the morning and the whole afternoon you talk about what you did there. Then you come back the next morning and do it again.”
Dr. Clark-Goff said she has not found a better camp for Mo and his younger sister, Madeleine.
“HPU’s Summer and Young Scholars camps have opened a new world for us,” she said. “I’ve been so pleased.”
Mo continues to sell granola to fund purchases such as a new computer, filament for his 3D printer and components for his at-home science lab. To purchase granola, contact Mo at firstname.lastname@example.org
HPU’s 2016 Summer and Young Scholars camps will be held July 18-22. For more information, contact Dr. Julie Welker at (325) 649-8508 or email@example.com.
Photo cutlines: Mo Goff, who has attended Summer Scholars camp at HPU for several years, was inspired to purchase his own 3D printer.
One of the objects Mo Goff has created with his 3D printer is a working pen engraved with his name.