Student-teachers share love of computer design with others

FORT KENT, Maine — Two University of Maine at Fort Kent students are sharing their love of computer aided design with members of the public, at no charge. Joseph Randall and Joshua Birden began teaching CAD courses last semester, and have enjoyed it so much they have returned to offer the classes again this semester.

“It originally started as a service to the library to teach people in the community how to make things with the 3D printer,” Randall said. With those classes being successful, Randall said that he and Birden then realized they could open up the lessons to include other programs as well.

“The goal is to open up computers and computer aided design to a wider audience,” he said.

The students-turned-teachers only teach software programs which are available for free on the internet, such as the 3D design program Sketch Up, 3D Sculptris and the photo editing programs GIMP and Paint.NET.

Randall said he has been using computer aided design programs since he was a sixth grade student at Fort Kent Elementary School. He later assisted a middle school teacher with teaching the program to students and “fell in love with it.”

“It allowed me to explore another interest that I have which is teaching. I enjoy helping people learn, especially if these things matter to them as much as they do to me,” he said.

Randall pointed out some exciting advances in 3D printing, such as those which may one day assist in organ donation. In the meantime, those who learn how to produce items with the 3D printer at UMFK can use their imaginations with regard to what they create.

“They have the opportunity to make virtually anything and print them. People can make gifts for their grandchildren,” Randall said.

Birden said he has also long had a passion for computer aided design and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the programs with others. He added that the classes are a good introduction to computer aided design and that no prior knowledge of the program is necessary.

“I’d hope that people who come to our classes get enough of a basic working knowledge of the programs to make later learning more comfortable,” he said.

Students of the classes have included other UMFK students and members of the St. John Valley Senior College. All classes are free of charge to any member of the public.

Registration is not necessary to participate in the courses which take place in Room 100 of the Old Model School Building on Wednesdays from 3 until 4:30 p.m. There will be no class on Wednesday, Feb. 22 during winter vacation. On Wednesday, March 1, Randall and Birden will begin teaching the GIMP photo editing program.

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