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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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

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Evaluation results

13 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 69.2%

Probably - 30.8%

Maybe - 0%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 76.9%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 15.4%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 7.7%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 76.9%

4 - Yes, I think so - 23.1%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 30%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 8.3%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 61.5%

4- Yes, I think so - 15.4%

3- Maybe - 23.1%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 100%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 100%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 70%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 70%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 60%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 60%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 16.7%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 16.7%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 83.3%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 66.7%

Other option - 0%


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