Electric motorcycles, cars, and green technologies. These advanced projects are the backbone of Phoenix Garage, a non-profit that provides at-risk students in Fort Collins engineering and job skills. Headed by Steve Koehmstedt, Phoenix Garage allows students to interact alongside engineering experts, including the 3D printing professionals at Idea2Product’s lab. The 3D printing lab is available to companies and individuals alike, and Phoenix Garage utilizes the lab for their own students and projects.
“We get great help from the students at the lab,” Steve said of Idea-2-Product. Steve and his students visit the lab regularly to print sprocket parts for their electric motorcycle project. “Working with the 3D printers provides real world experience. Working on campus gives these students college experience. It gives them a handle on what they could be in five years.” To Steve, Idea2Product is not a tour for the students, but a hands on learning experience.
Phoenix Garage’s projects can be time-consuming, and the company has used Idea2Product’s 3D printers for a year. “Right now we are converting our electric motorcycle from a chain-and-sprocket to a belt-and-sprocket system,” Steve said as he guided a student on the 3D printer. “We always do a physical model, typically from a foam core or cardboard, that fits on the motorcycle first. Then we model it in 3D, print, and refine it.” Steve said the 3D printers provide a far better range. “We can be more efficient. We are finding that kids learn technological and fabrication skills, discipline, and patience through this program.”
Even though Phoenix Garage remains small, Steve said, “Our goal is to serve and have more kids and build bigger, more complex projects, but we need to balance the cost.” Steve and his students will build an electric car after their motorcycle is completed, but the Phoenix Garage team must first locate a bigger work space where thy can construct this larger and more complex project. While the program holds as many as six kids, Steve hopes to mentor more. “There’s a reduced spirit of the value of quality,” Steve said of young people. “We need to teach kids that science and technology are important, and that there are careers there.” By utilizing the printers at Idea2Product, alongside the technologies from other supporters, those philosophies are impacting youth. A student summarized his experience at Phoenix Garage and Idea2Product by saying, “You learn how to think in this program.”
To learn more about Phoenix Garage and their projects, visit their website here