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Congressman Tim Ryan

Representing the 13th District of Ohio

Representatives Ryan, Takano, Stivers, and Brooks Introduce the 21st Century Shop Class Act

May 3, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Mark Takano (D-CA) and Susan Brooks (R-IN) today introduced the bipartisan 21st Century SHOP CLASS Act, legislation that would upgrade and modernize career and technical education programs in schools across the country. The 21st Century SHOP CLASS Act would define maker education and makerspaces, and amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to allow funding for maker education, makerspaces, and training for teachers in the application of maker education.

As our country begins to respond to the increase in automation and the future of job creation, America’s “maker” economy continues to grow with tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, desktop machines, and programs for digital designs becoming more affordable, common and powerful. As co-chairs of the House Maker Caucus, we believe that it is our responsibility to make sure every child has the opportunity to learn and excel with the skills necessary to move our country forward. Maker education can do this by exposing students to hands on project based learning approaches provided in makerspaces that encourage students to imagine, create, innovate, and tinker through the processes of manufacturing, testing, and demonstrating.

“The renaissance of the maker movement and accompanying technologies has enormous potential to reshape our national economy. Tools such as 3D printers, desktop machines, and programs for digital design are becoming more affordable and accessible. None of that matters, however, if we don’t have a workforce trained to use them. This legislation will help widen the use of hands-on-education in these new technologies. It will get our students creating again, so that they have the opportunity to become fluent in the skills that tomorrow’s economy will demand. We can and must prepare the next generation for the 21st century,” said Congressman Ryan.

“Makers are driving a creative and industrial rebirth across the country.  By increasing access to tools and the knowledge necessary to operate them, the Maker Movement is creating new opportunities for hobbyists to develop new products and companies. This is the new reality of the American economy and Congress needs to adjust our laws to encourage these entrepreneurs,” said Congressman Takano.

“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.” Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) 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.”

“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.”

"I am very excited and encouraged by this legislation," says Maker Education Initiative's Executive Director, Warren Lathe. "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." 

Nation of Makers is proud to support the SHOP CLASS Act. As Dorothy Jones-Davis, Executive Director, has stated, "If we are to be a true nation of makers, the development of a diverse set of academic, career, and technical skills is a necessity.  Hands-on, project-based, collaborative maker education provides a key opportunity for the development of these key skills, allowing students to learn through experience and enabling technical knowledge of a broad skill set. The expansion of the current Perkins Act language to explicitly include maker education and makerspaces will allow CTE and other educators to provide crucial 21st century skill sets that will enhance current career and technical education, thereby modernizing and expanding current career pathways, and promoting American innovation, and economic development."

Maker technologies such as 3D printers are already being used to build custom dental fittings and crowns; custom prosthetics; and electrical circuits. Bio 3-D printers can print a layer of a patient’s own cells which can grow to organs; bladders and kidneys have already been demonstrated in labs. At America Makes (formerly the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) in Youngstown, OH an extensive network of additive manufacturing technical expertise is already working to advance additive manufacturing and create new jobs.