BY JULIE MICHAEL SMITH
Director of Education, Vista AST
YOUNGSTOWN – The 2021 outlook for Vista AST is promising as it adapts to the dynamic learning environment in which schools now operate. As often is the case, unexpected circumstances beyond our control push us to find innovative solutions.
Vista’s client base is primarily schools. So the sudden closure of the schools in spring 2020 was devastating. Educators had to focus solely on remote and virtual delivery of core education subjects with the added challenges of training teachers quickly on use of digital technologies, teaching in a remote environment and providing equitable access to students.
Vista’s flagship program, Inventor Cloud, provides K-12 curricula and authentic design challenge kits and use of digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters. While Inventor Cloud was designed to be used in the classroom, with the onset of the pandemic and schools implementing remote and hybrid learning, it became essential for Vista to adapt to meet these new learning demands.
In 2021, from wherever they are, using whatever device, students can now learn, build, experiment and invent their solutions to the Inventor Cloud project challenges, solutions produced by digital fabrication equipment at Vista’s maker space or at their schools. For educators, Vista has adapted by offering lesson plans in Google Classroom and overhauling teacher training for virtual delivery.
Vista’s maker space, housed at the Youngstown Business Incubator, includes over 50 of its Invent3D printers, which the company also manufactures.
When the pandemic struck and there was an overwhelming demand for PPE for health care workers, Vista’s nonprofit affiliate, Advanced Methods in Innovation, launched a GoFundMeCharity campaign that provided over 1,000 face shields to personnel at hospitals, hospice providers and nursing homes.
As a result of this effort, a commercial demand was identified and Vista created an e-commerce site, PPPSource3d.com, for the sale of face shields and safety dividers.
A niche opportunity also was identified in the dental industry and Vista designed a face shield that accommodates equipment used by dentists and hygienists. The Fit2U Dental Shield is now sold nationwide and is used in dental schools.