3D Printing into Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts program is a broad spectrum of education mixed with high-adventure activities. The program opens your mind and gives you a taste of what the world has to offer. Scouting teaches personal valuation of efforts. It teaches pride in one’s work. It teaches pride in being apart of something larger than yourself. It gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. It requires you to come to terms with uncomfortable things, be they people, a cold sleeping bag, or poorly cooked food. Everyone cares about the greater good.

Scouting has been a significant component of my life and family. My two brothers, my father, and I are all Eagle Scouts. In a chance to get more involved in Scouting and the 3D printing industry, I have been working with two experts in 3D printing to bring 3D printing into Scouting. 3D printing will be a significant component of the workforce, and it is beneficial to teach this technology to the younger generation. I see tremendous opportunity with this technology for the Boy Scouts.

I have been working with Bill Macy, Founder of Rippl3d – a company focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, and several Scouting leaders to incorporate 3D printing and other disruptive technologies into the Boy Scouts of America.

Update #3: Unfortunate News

Leadership positions in the Scouting often rotate. The advisor for new merit badges gave me recommendations for approaching my submission, and excited about this opportunity.

The new advisor for new merit badge programs reached out to me, saying they did not currently see this merit badge opportunity. I believe this is a project worth pursuing; however, timing is not in my favor.


In April, I helped the United Innovators STEM Summit held at the Illinois Institute of Technology. United Innovators is an initiative of the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program. It includes eight talented high school students encouraging young people of color and women to pursue STEM careers.

The event was designed for middle and high school students and included several interactive workshops from assembling a 3D printed prosthetic hand to develop thinking and coding. I spent my time helping run the 3D printed rocket challenge for which GSC donated most of the 3D printed rocket parts.

The challenge, developed by Rippl3d, encourages players to create their own 3D printed air-powered rockets. Two challenge options are available for different skill levels. The standard challenge gives students the option of selecting from one of four pre-printed tail configurations. In contrast, the advanced challenge allows students to design their tail configuration and 3D print the part on-site.

Students must then launch their completed designs, adjusting their launch pressure and angle, into a target to see who earns the most points based on proximity to the bullseye. The challenge’s overall goal is to encourage students to experiment with different designs and variables to find the best ratio.


These events are critical in engaging students in the possibilities of STEM careers and help them understand the capabilities of 3D printing. As a rapidly growing industry, it’s a challenge to create a curriculum that wouldn’t be outdated by the time it reaches students. These interactive workshops give students hands-on experience that helps them understand how 3D printing impacts their lives every day and open their minds to the career possibilities they may not have considered.

Update #1: IMTS 2016

Rippl3d had a booth set up in the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in the student summit section based in Chicago, IL. The booth challenged students to build a rocket with different design variables (tail design, launch pressure, launch angle, and weight) to hit a bull’s eye. All the parts were 3D printed, and the advanced challenge was to design their tail using Rippl3d software and print the design at our booth to test. We encouraged the participants to experiment with multiple launches to optimize their design. Out of over 2000 launches, only one participant achieved a perfect score. There was great feedback from the Boy Scouts in attendance. Many had an interest in setting up the same event with their troops and district. Over 100 scouts participated. The event provided ample proof of concept, and I am reaching out to get more troops involved in the Chicago area and starting discussions on the national level.

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2 thoughts on “3D Printing into Boy Scouts

  1. I’ve been doing a lot with 3D printing this last year, and I’m also active with a local Scout troop as both a merit badge counselor and advancement coordinator. I had similar thoughts this evening and thought I would do a simple search for badges that might cover this tech… and found your post.

    It’s a shame they don’t see the potential in this badge. Is there anything others can do to help give support to this submission?


    1. It was discussed that 3D printing would likely be a section in an existing merit badge. This easiest integration would be the engineering merit badge. Use 3D printing as a design or manufacturing option, document it and show its value to the merit badge committee. This is hard because there is not much publication in 3D printing for education because by the time it takes to from start to finish (2-3 years) the information is already outdated.


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