Imprinting the Future: Accessible 3D-Printing for a Sustainable Environment

3D printing eco-friendly insect traps to protect Latinx Central Valley farmers against invasive species and plant pathogens.

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Eligibility: Please confirm you meet all the following criteria

  • You are aged between 14 - 18 as of August 1, 2020
  • You live in the United States or its territories
  • You are not employed by, or directly related (grand parents, parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • You have been working on this project for at least three months
  • You consent to us possibly featuring your work on social media
  • You confirm you have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Eligibility: Date of Birth

11/5/03

What gender do you identify with?

  • Male

Help us stay in touch!

(650)-460-9563 California: Palo Alto (94306): 272 E. Charleston Rd

Date You Started Your Project Started

12 / 05 / 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

As the underserved farmhands of the Central Valley toil each day, they must cope with harsh conditions and crop destroying pests, particularly rapid infestation of the HLB disease. Without access to STEM technology as both an educational equalizer and method of solution, future generations inherit the same occupational and environmental issues and lack of social mobility. We believe technology can support their futures, and their communities.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Imprinting the Future's goal is to increase STEM familiarity and skills in underserved students within the Central Valley’s agricultural communities to use tech to solve local problems. Using a network of companies and individuals aligned with our goals, we procure 3D-printers, to donate to local community organizations in farming regions. Then we support the first goal of our two-fold mission, to use 3D-printers as a gateway for underserved students to open their futures to STEM education and careers, by holding classes to teach them how to use 3D-printers and software. Our classes and resources will make our second goal possible: to empower and enable students to invest in their communities by printing solutions to the issues facing farm laborers, namely harsh working conditions and invasive bug species infestation. Currently, we have two projects supporting this goal, a mask and face-shield initiative we lead with the Essential Heroes Campaign to protect workers from COVID-19 transmission and pesticide inhalation, that has donated hundreds of units. We are also working with students to design an insect trap prototype to safely target vectors of the HLB disease.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

One of the issues the farmers face is the Asian citrus psyllid, an invasive species which spreads Huanglongbing disease. This pathogen blocks citrus trees’ phloem, a vascular tissue that transports sugar from the leaves. Symptomatic fruit becomes inedible, and entire trees die. Huanglongbing disease then impacts over 3,000 farmers and their communities. In order to protect these crops, we plan on printing biodegradable traps to eradicate the insects, without harming the citrus trees. Using the Autodesk CADing suite, we are experimenting and revising various plastic based designs for an easily manufactured, 3D printed insect trap, which can be printed on-site. We are currently testing different plastics, adhesives, and pesticides to determine which are safest and most effective. We plan on using natural sticking agents such as neem oil, as to reduce health hazards. Working farmers are exposed to harmful insecticides for 12-13 hours at a time, and would benefit from an environmentally sustainable product.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

As a group of young Hispanic students, the inspiration to become a change maker has been fueled through our experiences since childhood. Growing up in Palo Alto, whose contrast with East Palo Alto is a grave reminder of socioeconomic disparity, we wanted to make a difference. The two towns are not simply divided by Highway 101, but by a greater lack of resources and opportunities. Seeing this has inspired each of us to become advocates now for underprivileged groups. We want to demonstrate that you don’t need to stay in the social status you are born into; with greater resources, people are enabled to push past economic boundaries. We feel strongly about Latinx empowerment, and want to provide these farmers with greater STEM-based opportunities and resources. Through 3D printing, they then have a gateway to healthier careers and crops.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

I want to be part of the generation that makes a difference; breaks the stigma that you need to be wealthy or male to explore STEM. I’m passionate about resolving the inequality of people of color regarding opportunities to explore STEM. I believe in minority empowerment and I want to show them your ethnicity and zip code doesn’t define you. I’m a promoter for eco-friendly substitutes and I feel everyone deserves an outlet for success, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of the environment.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

We have organized the donation of 7 3D-printers from ID-tech, partnered with Nokia. We have also contacted several Central Valley community organizations and plan to teach 3D printing and other STEM-related classes to them in the future. We contacted farming unions and discussed problems that they want prioritized, such as Huanglongbing disease. Additionally, we have researched various invasive insect species and which traps best eradicate them.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

As members of the Hispanic community, we support other Latinos and give them increased opportunities. We hope the 3D printed insect traps will protect local ecosystems from invasive species, and empower Latinx fieldworkers. By creating an easily replicated prototype, we will teach local farmers how to make these traps, and give them access to STEM-based opportunities. Our partnership with ID-tech aims to introduce women to STEM. We upcycle used 3D printers and donate them to foundations such as the CCAT. We supply these communities with coding and CADing lessons for their 3D printing.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Much of our current impact has been made through the Essential Heroes Campaign, with whom we have produced and donated 200 3D-printed masks and 150 face shields to farmers in Fresno and Half Moon Bay through Ayudando Latinos a Soñar. With the masks, the farmers will be protected from COVID-19 and can work safely. We also plan to donate three of our printers to the CCAT in Fresno, for use in 3D printing classes. The farmers will then be able to print both our insect traps, and any tools that break on the job, utilizing their new 3D printer training.To impact the most people as possible, we plan on expanding to other schools and reaching farms across the state.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

A network based organization, we are always looking to acquire new partnerships. Through our substantial presence in Fresno with the CCAT, we are working avidly to establish two satellite CCAT printing classes in Bakersfield and East Palo Alto, which will receive four printers. As we work with our students on designs for 3D-printed insect traps, we are coming closer to an effective working design. In the next year, we expect to both finalize and distribute our design for use in citrus farms, as well as use the design as a basis for combating similar infestation issues. Fresno and its farms are also impacted by the Light Brown Apple Moth and Potato Psyllid.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We are working with the EHC, with whom we produce PPE for communities affected by COVID-19. Our efforts with EHC were featured on ID Tech and Nokia’s social media page. An article written by our team on teen involvement was published in Palo Alto Online and the Latino Community Foundation’s blog. This platform and connections allowed us to increase our output to farmworkers and spread the importance of our efforts. We plan to involve local teens through online outreach.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We would love to become involved with like-minded organizations, like STEM&buds, to expand STEM education in less-privileged communities. We will offer coding/3D printing camps at YMCA sites. When partnered, we will hold after school classes together to cross-promote one another. We feel that collaborating will be an extremely efficient way to expand our reach.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Our general outreach and education is conducted through social media and community classes. Donation-based, we rely on funneling support from like-minded and larger organizations and businesses, like Nokia. Contact with these organizations is made directly to foster a personal relationship that combines our goals and promotes communication. For future connections, we will create a website containing contact information, frequently asked questions, and resources.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

References

Michael Wessel, michael.wessel@sri.com, (650)-817-5161 Patrice Banal, patbanal@gmail.com, (650)-704-1271 Ylka Reiss, yreiss@idtech.com, (408)-896-6747

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
  • Native American or Alaska Native (for example: Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupial Traditional Government, Nome Eskimo Community) (10)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

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Spam
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I think this could not only be used in East Palo Alto, but other cities that are suffering from harsh conditions. Keep it up!

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