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3D Printing Schools in Madagascar

When I was 23, I was a recent college graduate and still trying to figure out my career.

At only 23 years old, young entrepreneur Maggie Grout has found her calling: 3D-printing school campuses in Madagascar.

Despite the challenges that Madagascar poses, Maggie is determined to provide access to education for the local children.

According to the United Nations, 40% of the population in Madagascar is comprised of children 14 years old and younger.

Additionally, Maggie recognizes first-hand how the trajectory of her life could have taken a different turn without education. Born in an orphanage in China, Maggie is extremely grateful for the educational opportunities she has been granted.

Photo: Mattea LinAe

Thinking Huts

The idea to 3D-print campuses first came to Maggie in 2021 during the pandemic. Maggie partnered with a San Francisco architect and together they decided to make these huts resemble a honeycomb so modules could be easily added.

Referred to as “Thinking Huts,” these additive manufactured schools take 18 hours to build and cost between $40,000 – $50,000 to produce. Her goal is to cut down this amount to $20,000 per hut.

Maggie brought over her 3D printers in a shipping container and has successfully printed a campus in Fianarantsoa, a town in south central Madagascar and home to 200,000 people.

Photo: Geoffrey Gaspard

A campus consists of a few honeycomb designed huts complete with solar panels. The huts also contain drinkable water, Wi-Fi, and bathrooms.

“From that first project, I really learned how to streamline the logistics. I learned how to put together the supply chain when there’s not a lot of locally available materials. And then I learned how to work in harmony with the local people,” stated Maggie as reported by Fast Company.

Maggie is now putting the finishing touches on the second 3D-printed campus, nicknamed “Honeycomb,” which can be found on the west coast of the African island.

Photo: Thinking Huts

Beyond the Building

In addition to the physical structure, Thinking Huts aims to create 3D-technician programs which will improve the job market.

After completing the project, Thinking Huts will be managed locally which will encourage the community to become involved.

Although teachers are currently sourced from outside the area, Maggie strives to work with the Ministry of Education and make the school public. This would encourage the government to hire local teachers.

“Education is at the root of solving all the other problems in the world. I would look at all these problems going on in the news, and I was like, ‘Well, if people just had the skills and the education to come up with the solutions on their own, then we wouldn’t be seeing all of this,'” said Maggie according to Fast Company.

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