2000px-Central_Michigan_University_wordmark.svgMany universities today, as well as schools at all grade levels, are not only discovering how fun and motivating a tool 3D printing can be, but a necessary one as well. As the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) agenda is truly becoming integrated for student curriculums, digital design and 3D printing are at the top of the list for arming graduates with the required skillsets of today and tomorrow. Many schools acquire 3D printers after teaching professionals acquire one themselves or see them at conferences and realize the value and the need to have them in the classroom.

WightmanWhile it can be cost prohibitive for many, often the purchase of one or two 3D printers is able to be made possible due to setting aside extra monies in the budget or due to grants, many of which are available today regarding innovation. It’s a lucky school who finds themselves with an entire 3D printing lab, however–and that’s exactly the case right now at Central Michigan University’s Wightman Hall.

Not only is CMU one of the few universities in general to have a MakerBot Innovation Center, but they are the only public university in the Midwest right now to have one of these incredibly empowering and inspiring lab setups at their institution. With a focus on arts and human services, this large scale installation of 30 printers will allow students and teachers working in close proximity to each other to perform individually as well as in groups to broaden their horizons with creativity, but it can be shared with local businesses and organizations as well.

These centers are scaleable, but usually begin with 30 or more 3D printers, and include supporting devices and software as well. Students are able to work together, brainstorm, and collaborate much more easily. We have followed the development of other MakerBot Innovation Centers opening and operating with great success for students and communities at learning institutions such as Ohio’s Xavier University, SUNY New Paltz, and even in Europe, at Università Cattaneo in Castellanza, Italy.

“The MakerBot Innovation Center will open the door for students and faculty who work on creative projects and explore the intersection of art, technology and the humanities,” said Janet Hethorn, dean of the CMU College of Communication and Fine Arts.  “We are excited to collaborate in creating this space as part of our vision to expand our advanced fabrication possibilities in 3D printing.”

UntitledMichael Mamp, a CMU human environmental studies faculty member, will teach the first semester-long course in the U.S. focused on 3D printing as it applies to fashion product conceptualization and development, while art and design faculty member Greg Stahly will teach a ‘Creation in 3D’ class, which will instruct students on the use of the 3D printers as a part of the overall process to create visual arts.

“We want our students to use 3D design to make their ideas come to life,” said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of CMU’s College of Education and Human Services. “The Innovation Center and its groundbreaking technology put CMU’s students at the forefront of innovation and creativity.”

The new Innovation Center has been built with a team of experts, the MakerBot Learning team, who worked with the university in setting up the 30 MakerBot Replicator 3D printers and five MakerBot Digitizer desktop 3D scanners, all running on MakerBot’s proprietary 3D printing software which links them and allows for all of the following:

  • Streamlining productivity
  • Staffing of the center
  • Providing remote access
  • Print queuing
  • Mass production of 3D prints

“Fashion designers and artists are using 3D printing to bring their ideas to the physical world,” said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO at MakerBot. “Design Students at CMU will now be able to push the boundaries of fashion and design through 3D printing and design.  For designers, access to 3D printing will foster an atmosphere of collaboration and accelerate the creative process.”

In celebration of the new 3D printing lab, the university is hosting a grand opening on Oct. 22 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in Wightman Hall. The Vice Provost, Ray Christie, will speak, along with CCFA Dean Janet Hethorn, EHS Dean Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, and a representative from MakerBot.  Discuss this story in the MakerBot Forum.

 

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