During National Week of Making, we recommit to sparking the creative confidence of all Americans and to giving them the skills, mentors, and resources they need to harness their passion and tackle some of our planet’s greatest challenges.” – President Obama

America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors and entrepreneurs. Tools such as 3D printers, desktop machine tools, and tools for digital design are becoming more powerful, easier to use, and more widely available. Combined with crowdfunding and online communities, these trends are empowering the next generation of tinkerers, entrepreneurs and inventors. The rise of the maker movement and community of makers represents a significant opportunity for how VA can bring these tools and innovations to improve the experience and care of Veterans and their support networks.

Today, as President Obama proclaims June 17-23 the National Week of Making, we are excited to share news of our collaboration with 3D Veterans to train Veterans in using 3D printing techniques. Our collaboration will launch with a pilot program in San Antonio, training 15 Veterans over three months with the tools and skills associated with additive manufacturing. These Veterans will also be working with clinicians at the San Antonio VA Medical Center to co-design prototypes of 3D printed assistive technology devices for Veterans with disabilities. Veterans who participate in the curriculum will be able to apply for seed funding to develop additional prototypes and commercialization of these devices.

This efforts builds off of VA Center for Innovation’s past efforts in the maker arena, such as our collaboration with Techshop to provide access to maker equipment to Veterans and the VA Innovation Creation Series which was an open innovation competition to design personalized assistive technologies for Veterans using 3D printing

In addition to VA, seven other Federal agencies are announcing new grants, education initiatives, training, knowledge networks, and other supports to help create more markers and assist more entrepreneurs to take prototypes to scale with new ventures. More details about the 2016 National Week of Making can be found here.

This post originally appeared on the VA Center for Innovation’s Medium page.

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Published on Jun. 17, 2016

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