Staples, Minn.,
07:00 AM

Technology Mobile Gains Two 3D Printers

Region 5 'technology library on wheels' aims to expand to all 23 school districts in Region 5 by 2018-19

Staples, Minn. (27 January 2017) - Technology Mobile's library of cutting-edge technology increased by two 3D printers this week, giving the collaborative program additional resources to better serve Region 5 school districts.

Staples Business Advantage, a National Joint Powers Alliance® partner, heard of “Tech Mobile,” through Dave Duhn, NJPA contract administrator, and because of the program's commitment to innovation in the classroom, deemed it a recipient of the printers.

“Tech Mobile is an innovative program that brings opportunities to smaller, rural schools that otherwise may not have access to this type of technology,” said Marty Robertson, vice president and general manager of technology solutions at Staples Business Advantage. “We are happy to contribute to a program that gives students a hands-on learning experience and exposure to a vast curriculum.”

Technology Mobile is a technology library on wheels, with equipment and curriculum that aligns with Minnesota standards in robotics, art and design, health, manufacturing, and more. It's a collaborative program between Central Lakes College and Minnesota State Community & Technical College that began in 2014, and to date, has received $760,000 in Innovation Funding from NJPA.

The program's large, eye-catching van travels between the nine participating schools of Bertha-Hewitt, Browerville, Menahga, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Staples-Motley, Upsala, and Verndale. The plan is to expand to all 23 school districts in Region 5 by 2018-19.

Alicia Green, program director of Tech Mobile, couldn't stop grinning on Wednesday as she accepted the printers.

“Thank you so much,” Green said to Steve Reberg, Staples Business Advantage regional representative, on site for the donation. “The kids are going to love it!”

The two printers donated by Staples Business Advantage are MakerBot Replicator Mini 3D printers. The compact, user-friendly machines connect to Wi-Fi, and can be controlled via computer or mobile phone. Spools of 1.75mm polylactic acid (PLA) filament turn into small models, toys, prototypes, and more.

With the donation, Technology Mobile now has seven 3D printers, ranging in size and capabilities.

Because of their usability, Green says the newest printers will be used with Region 5 elementary students. Green has seen 3D printers inspire students to create incredible things, including mini, moveable models of human joints, and even a full-sized prosthetic.

“Second graders in Browerville printed ball-and-socket joints- just a little model they can take home with them,” she said. "Students up in Menahga actually printed a hand on the 3D printer, and then robotics students were able to hook it up so their classmate could pick up and drop things.

“It opens their eyes to a whole bunch of possibilities and careers - the sky is the limit.”

NJPA Director of Regional Programs Paul Drange adds that a secondary, but just as important result of Tech Mobile, is the impact on educators and the creativity it inspires.

“They're learning how to educate our kids in ways that wouldn't be possible without access to a program like this,” Drange said. “I would argue this makes teachers more creative in the classroom, and that hits home with the kids even more. Whether they go into a technology field or not, they're probably learning in ways that help them in other subjects.”

To learn more about Technology Mobile, contact Alicia Green at

About NJPA

Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) is a self-supporting government organization, partnering with education, government, and nonprofits to boost student and community success. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota's nine service cooperatives, we offer training and shared services to our central-Minnesota members. Throughout North America, we offer a cooperative purchasing program with over 200 awarded vendors on contract. Sourcewell is driven by service and the ability to strategically reinvest in member communities.