Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Brooks, Stivers aim to advance ‘maker’ movement by modernizing technical education programs

May 5, 2017
In The News

The nation’s career and technical education (CTE) programs would be modernized under bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) on Wednesday, with a goal of teaching students the skills they need to compete for tomorrow’s innovative new jobs.

The country’s emerging “maker” economy has grown as the emergence of tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, desktop machines and digital design programs that have become more affordable and available in recent years.

Brooks, Stivers and other co-chairs of the bipartisan House Maker Caucus said maker education programs can expose students to hands-on learning provided in makerspaces that encourage students to imagine, create, innovate, and tinker through the processes of manufacturing, testing, and demonstrating.

The new legislation, 21st Century Shop Class Act, would define “maker education” and “makerspaces.” It would also amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to make funding available for maker education, makerspaces and related teacher training.

“As we look towards the future, it’s important that education and skills training keeps up with the rapid changes we’re seeing in technology and innovation,” Brooks said. “According to the U.S. Labor Department, 65 percent of students today will work in jobs that don’t yet exist. Makerspaces are a critical tool to prepare students of all ages for the jobs of the future, hone problem-solving skills, and foster creativity and innovation.”

Maker technologies such as 3D printers are already being used to build custom dental fittings and prosthetics. In Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes – formerly known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute – is working on advancing additive manufacturing and creating new jobs.

“The United States has a history of being home to many of the world’s great inventors, and we need to continue to support this spirit of innovation for future generations.” Stivers said. “As a co-chair of the Congressional Maker Caucus, I am proud to support this legislation to expand maker education and give teachers the resources they need for education in the 21st Century.”

U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan legislation with Brooks and Stivers.

Warren Lathe, the executive director of the Maker Education Initiative, said he was excited and encouraged by the 21st Century Shop Class Act.

“Maker education is a student-driven, hands-on approach that deepens learning, and this legislation will help provide support for CTE and other educators to receive the training and resources they need to expand and implement this effective, engaging and empowering approach in their schools,” Lathe said.