Think summer: Purdue offers high schoolers the chance to learn 3D printing, business, and more

You’ve got four teammates and a 3D printer, and one week to develop a brand-new product, develop a business plan, and present it to real-world judges. Could you do it? That’s the challenge presented to high schoolers during a course in Purdue University’s Summer College for High School Students.



“This is a chance for high school students to come to Purdue and see what it’s like to take some of the courses here,” said Alex Chortos, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “They have courses in business, engineering, computer science, aviation, and more."

Chortos and fellow mechanical engineering professor Monique McClain developed a week-long course called Fantastic Plastic: Designing a Product Using 3D Printing. “The students were in groups of five, and they had a 3D printer right on their desk,” said Chortos. “The goal was to give them a hands-on experience with prototyping new products using 3D printing.”

Some students had previous experience with CAD and 3D printing, but many had to learn from scratch. “That’s the advantage of being in groups,” said Chortos. “Each student had skills to offer the group. Some focused on the 3D printing, while other focused on the business side, or on the final presentation.”

Chortos and McClain made sure the students got a full experience, both inside and outside the classroom. "We brought in guest speakers from Kupros, Relativity, Stryker, and 3Degrees Consulting," said McClain. "We also visited Purdue labs that specialize in additive manufacturing, such as the Composites Manufacturing and Simulation Center. I showed them my own work with 3D-printed energetic materials."

At the end of the week, students had to present their prototype and business plan to a panel of judges consisting of professors and graduate students who specialize in manufacturing. “Their presentations were really amazing,” said Chortos. “The amount of detail and thought that went into their projects surprised all of the judges.”

The 3D printing class was one of more than 600 courses offered as part of Purdue’s Summer College for High School Students program. Students 15 and older can take “fun-sized” weeklong courses for 1 or 2 college credits, or they can stay on campus longer and take traditional 4-week, 8-week, or even 12-week courses alongside current undergraduate students. Even fully online courses are available.

“I think any high school student could benefit from looking into this program,” said Chortos. “If you’re interested in just trying something out for a week before you commit four years of your life to it, this is a great opportunity to do that.”


Writer: Jared Pike,, 765-496-0374

Summer College for High School Students: