Local student continues service in new career path

When Bethany Curtis was working on a 3D printing assignment at Mid Michigan College, a familiar intuition came to mind: helping others.

Thinking of the struggles she watched her aging grandparents face while trying to maintain independence, and the similar difficulties the residents had at the adult care facility where she previously worked, the Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) student decided to make a tool to help seniors grip utensils.

Bethany Curtis, a CADD student at Mid Michigan College, made a tool to help seniors grip utensils.

“It’s an excellent tool for people,” she says of the affordable design, which she re-engineered using software and materials at the college and produced for just 96 cents. “It just gives them a little more independence.”

As she progresses through the associate’s degree program at Mid Michigan College, Curtis has developed a passion for computer-aided drafting and design that she didn’t expect when she first started attending classes with the intention of pursuing a different program.

“You can be as artistic as you want with it,” she says. “A lot of people overlook (CADD) because it does have to do with manufacturing and blueprints and all that sort of stuff that some kids ignore, but it is something to be artistic with and to work with, and you really will get a decent job after you finish the degree.”

Bethany Curtis, a CADD student at Mid Michigan College, shows the tool she made to help seniors grip utensils, which she was able to produce for 96 cents.

A class with Mid Michigan College instructor Eric Sander is what inspired Curtis – a self-proclaimed “book nerd” who loves spending time outdoors – to pursue CADD.

“Seeing a student like Beth start the (program) with zero experience and work her way through the program to a point where she can design and 3D print her own products is very rewarding,” he says. “Beth's journey is a great example for other students to observe.”

Her dedication isn’t surprising, though. Curtis, 30, spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and another four in the Reserve. Now back in her home state of Michigan, Curtis and her veteran husband are living in Harrison and both studying for new career paths.

Bethany Curtis and her husband

“It’s always a struggle when you are used to the military life, but I tell people who are hesitant to use your GI Bill to figure out what you want to do and find something you're passionate about,” she says. “Don’t be afraid. It’s worth a shot to just go ahead and figure it out.”

For Curtis, computer-aided drafting and design was the perfect combination of art and math – plus the ability to make an impact on others.

“I would like to be able to specialize in prosthetics and general home use tools,” she says. “With 3D printing and the CADD degree in general, you can apply it to many places. They’re 3D printing houses, human organs, hearts and blood vessels. It’s something you can take with you and apply to different aspects – medical, architecture. It really is something you can apply to your life.”

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