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The drafting and design department at Montana Tech's Highlands College is enlisting its 3-D printers and one of its students to help raise awareness about a university-wide sexual assault prevention campaign.

Highlands College, located south of Butte along Harrison Avenue, is part of the Montana Tech system.

First-year drafting student Chandler Hawley collaborated with the Montana Tech Rape Prevention Education Task Force to design and create plastic keychains that are stamped with the image of a hand palm, the logo of the university's Frontstander campaign.

Cricket Pietsch, a member of the task force and also a Highlands counselor, said the Frontstander campaign started about five years ago after Tech received a $29,000 Rape Prevention and Education grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since then, Pietsch said, every year Tech has received the grant, which is administered by the state.

"(The grant) allows us to bring in guest speakers," said Pietsch. "It allows us to buy some of the giveaways to promote our campaign."

Pietsch explained that Frontstander is a play on the word "bystander."

Being a Frontstander, she said, means taking action when one witnesses harassment or sexual assault either by saying something or stepping in.

"What Frontstander stands for is active bystander awareness," said Pietsch. "When you think of the word 'bystander,' it's a really passive term. We don't want people to be passive."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Pietsch added, and the university is putting on a host of activities, including a diversity luncheon and a suicide prevention seminar.

Originally from Billings, Hawley, 22, said he started learning about drafting and design after he became interested in architecture his junior year of high school.

When he graduates from Highlands, he said, he wants to become a computer-aided design technician and has already landed a post-graduation internship with the engineering firm DOWL.

Hawley created the Frontstander keychain, which looks like a large coin with raised and depressed features, by first sketching a design on paper.

He then used a computer program called Autodesk Fusion 360 to create a 3-D model of his keychain and later printed that model on Highlands'  3-D printers.

"You just use these tools to mold and shape the objects that you want," said Hawley, demonstrating the college's design software.

The process seems simple enough, but Hawley says creating the design involved more than inputting a circle shape and typing some text.

To create the Frontstander palm print, Hawley had to painstakingly draw the hand digitally using a drawing tool that can create curved lines – a process that he said took around three hours of drawing and refining on the computer.

In addition, the keychain is depressed and has raised features, so Hawley had to envision his design in three dimensions, taking into account the dimensions and width of his design. It's a bit like merging art with science.

Rebecca Morris, a drafting technology instructor at Highlands who oversaw Hawley's project, said she enjoys working with the 22-year-old because of his focus and attention to detail.

"Chandler showed really good skills in working with the 3-D modeling program, and he was interested in doing a project so that he could apply his skills," said Morris.

"It was really exciting," said Hawley of being asked to participate in the project. "I loved the whole design process."

In fact, Hawley said, the design process is his favorite part about working with the computer-aided design software and 3-D printers, noting that it's a dynamic process and you're not guaranteed to get your design right the first time.

As for Pietsch, she said she'd like to see the Frontstander campaign become a force not only for fighting against sexual assault but also other types of harassment and bullying, such as those based on sexual orientation and ethnicity.

"We appreciate the support of the community in our endeavors." said Pietsch. "We want to be part of the cultural shift to make sure there's equity."


Business Reporter

Business Reporter for The Montana Standard.

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