Napthine pledges AU$2.2m for high school 3D-printing scheme

Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine has promised up to AU$2.2 million funding for a plan to put 3D-printing equipment into every high school in the state, if re-elected in November.

Victoria's public high schools are set to get 3D printers under a re-elected Coalition government.

Almost 400 government high schools and special schools will be able to benefit as part of an AU$2.2 million program — if the government is returned on November 29.

Under the program, the government will fund up to AU$3,750 per school to buy the printers and associated equipment for up to 316 high schools and P-12 schools, plus 75 special schools with secondary students.

State Premier Dr Denis Napthine said the government wants to make sure that every public secondary school has the printers, so that students could prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

"This program will nurture student creativity and scientific endeavour, and help to create the next generation of cutting-edge scientists, designers, and manufacturers," he said.

Napthine, who is currently on the campaign trail for the state election on November 29, said the election commitment funding would deliver a high-quality resource that will encourage students to explore the practical applications of science, technology, and design.

"The 3D printer is the way of the future," he said. "We believe having exposure of students of 3D printers will inspire them."

The funding for the 3D printers will include support for software, printer materials, and teacher training.

The government said that the proposal builds on its work already done on 3D printer training in schools by the state government-funded Quantum Victoria, which has been offering programs to teachers and students on the use of 3D printers for design works since last year.

Whether the plan comes to fruition remains to be seen, with Napthine and his administration trailing Labor in the opinion polls. The latest Galaxy opinion poll shows the Labor party leading 52 percent to the Coalition's 48 percent on a two-party preferred basis.

However, if the scheme does result in 3D-printing technology rolled out to the state's schools, it would see the Victorian government tap into what Gartner calls one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2015.

In early October, market analysis firm Gartner revealed its top 10 strategic technologies for 2015, with the introduction of 3D printing to the list, suggesting that the emerging technology has gone mainstream in the enterprise.