The Clark County Youth Commission recently honored Washougal High School senior Ulysses Ramel with the 2018 Clark County Youth Achievement Award recognizing youth who have demonstrated personal growth and contributed to their communities.
Both of those achievements apply to Ramel, who moved to Washougal from the Philippines in the middle of his freshman year of high school, and quickly developed a reputation as a 3D printing and software guru who went above and beyond in his role as a school librarian aide.
“His growth, from when I met him in his sophomore year … is like a climbing ladder,” Washougal High School library media specialist Hillary Marshall said of Ramel, whom she nominated for the youth award. “I’ve seen him gain confidence. But he’s a really humble young man, and I’ve tried to help give him opportunities to share his passion, because he’s taught me an awful lot.”
Instead of doing the normal library check-ins and shelving books, like most library student aides, Ramel has helped Marshall utilize high-tech equipment, like the library’s new Dremel 3D40 printer, purchased in the spring of 2017.
Marshall tasked Ramel with assembling the printer. After that, the Washougal senior was hooked. He has since spent countless hours learning about 3D printing software, creating 3D models and creating instructions for other students.
“I just like when I create something in the computer and then it (becomes a) reality,” he said. “It’s kind of cool to see it.”
Of receiving the Clark County youth award, Ramel said he didn’t expect it, but that it was a happy surprise.
“I just like helping people, that’s probably one of the reasons why I was being nominated for that,” he said of the award.
During National Library Week in April, Ramel created small flower pots for the Washougal High library using the 3D printer. He also has produced a Rubix Cube, small tractor toys for his cousins in the Philippines, puzzle boxes and keychains for Special Olympics Unified Sports participants.
Sometimes, the 3D printer extends to classes not normally thought of when considering high-tech tools. For instance, Ramel recently created step-by-step instructions for Washougal High culinary arts students who wanted to create 3D printed chocolate and fondant molds for a final project.
“His work is phenomenal, what he can do with that thing,” Marshall said of Ramel’s mastery with the 3D printing machine.
Ramel, who graduates from Washougal High on June 16, is joining the United State Air Force and hopes to study mechanical engineering.
After serving in the military, Ramel said he would like to earn a college degree, become a dual citizen of the United States and the Philippines and eventually open his own business in the Philippines.
Washougal middle-schoolers get head start on career, technical skills
The Washougal High School library has its own 3D printer, but most Washougal students become familiar with the device and related software in middle school.
Both Canyon Creek and Jemtegaard middle schools offer exploratory design and modeling courses, in which students learn engineering principles, participate in drawing projects and receive an introduction to 3D-printing software such as SketchUp, which helps students create a computer model of whatever they hope to build in real form on the 3D printer.
Margaret Rice, the career and technical education (CTE) director for Washougal schools, said educators hope the courses will someday give Washougal students a leg up in the job market.
“All of our CTE programs are driven by occupational opportunity,” Rice explained. “So, when we look at occupational data in our region for our work, there are jobs that are available for students that are coming out of programs like ours.”
The 3D printing knowledge students gain in middle and high school could help them get an entry level job or give them a boost when they head into higher education courses.
At the middle school level, administrators hope the design and modeling class — as well as a automation and robotics class that utilizes computer programs — will offer a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) experience that students could choose to pursue through additional elective classes.
“Students at the high school use their design and modeling and they actually build real things, they don’t use the printers,” Rice said. “They build with metals and woods and they do use computer software and designs using 3D-modeling software that communicates with the machines in the shop.”
The CTE team at Washougal’s school district level analyzes local data on occupations and tries to align classes to the types of skills employers desire.
“We also want to look at our students’ interests and build programs that will support our students — their likes and dislikes, and where they see themselves going in the future,” Rice said.
If the team wasn’t continuously looking at data and job trends and relating it to Washougal education classes, Rice said they would be doing the students a disservice.
“We have to change as the opportunities change, so that our students can stay up with industry and be cutting-edge,” she said. “And it does provide an opportunity for them that may give them a leg up over someone else, because they have those skills where someone else may not, especially coming out of high school.”