Grants Awarded to FAMU-FSU and CCSF Offer Financial Support for 3D Printing Education and Research

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Being awarded an educational grant can help schools take on innovative projects and research that they may not be able to do otherwise. In terms of additive manufacturing, grants can be used to help schools improve education on the technology, develop new materials, and even make 3D printed blood vessels. This winter, the Florida A&M University-Florida State University’s (FAMU-FSU) College of Engineering received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study robotics and future manufacturing needs. FAMU-FSU announced that earlier this month, it received another NSF grant, from the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST). The $4.9 million grant will be used to promote research excellence in additive manufacturing, devices, and novel materials.

Funds from the grant, which will be distributed over five years, will support the school’s Center for Complex Materials Design for Multidimensional Additive Processing, or CoManD Center. Researchers will work to develop novel methods of cancer drug delivery, better space shuttle and aircraft wings, and promote manufacturing advancements that take place at the micrometer scale, which could be useful for applications like in vitro 3D tumor models and nanostructured photovoltaic devices.

CoManD Center director Subramanian Ramakrishnan, PhD, who’s also an associate professor of chemical and biomedical engineering in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the grant’s principal investigator, said, “This grant will give us a chance to make a bigger footprint in materials and biological research at FAMU and to create a pipeline of new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals to address the challenges of the future.”

Ramakrishnan explained that the center will be made up of an interdisciplinary team of faculty from multiple academic departments, such as chemistry, biological and agricultural systems engineering, and industrial engineering, and that an educational program and three sub-projects will take place there, all of which center around using a high-precision 3D printer to pattern multiple materials.

  1. Ramakrishnan will be developing nanostructured lightweight materials for shielding and sensing applications with FSU’s National High Magnetic Field.
  2. FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering Tarik Dickens, PhD, will develop materials and devices for energy applications with the High-Performance Materials Institute.
  3. FAMU Pharmaceutics Professor Mandip Singh Sachdeva, PhD, will be developing devices and materials for biological applications, like a 3D printed tumor biosystem on a chip.

(L-R) Professors Ramakrishnan, Dickens and Sachdeva in front of the high-resolution 3D printer that will be used to manufacture novel materials and devices. [Image: FAMU]

Some of the project collaborators include MIT, Air Force Research Labs, and Harvard University.

“The uniqueness of this award is the synergy between universities, national labs and defense labs. This award is a new milestone for FAMU,” said Ramakrishnan. “It will help establish FAMU as a pioneer in additive manufacturing research in the Southeast and garner attention from regional industries. It creates strong collaborations between the engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, agriculture, and science and technology colleges and schools at FAMU. This project also opens up avenues for students and faculty to work with some of the top scientists in the world at our collaborator institutions like MIT and Harvard.”

The grant will also support undergraduate courses that are currently being developed on topics like nanomaterials and additive manufacturing, and a laboratory course on materials.

The City College of San Francisco (CCSF) also received a grant, which will help students develop skills in the STEAM curriculum. Funding was awarded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to a total of 24 colleges. The $350,000 award, which is renewable for a second year, will be used to build a makerspace community, or Maker Sphere, across three separate locations on the campus. Each makerspace location will have tools centered around a specific area of work, and students in each location will be able to communicate with each other using real time video chats.

CCSF spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said, “We are creating a new space and learning environment where students can engage in learning 21st century skills. Our students are already ‘makers’ and have been for a long time. This grant allows us to engage in cross-disciplinary learning, bringing together the skills and expertise of many of our maker departments.”

Students work in the common area of CCSF’s Ocean Campus. [Image: Mira Laing, San Francisco Examiner]

According to CCSF officials, one makerspace location will be centered around manufacturing and will have 3D printers, drill presses, and laser cutters, while another will have tools for photo editing and a recording sound studio; the last will provide tools for construction and soldering equipment. One location will also display student works, like architecture models and high-tech fashion. CCSF students who are taking STEAM courses will have access to the Maker Sphere, which “aims to strengthen the link between arts and science.”

“What happens when you have fashion students collaborating with IT students? Amazing innovations that we can’t even anticipate today,” said Theresa Rowland, CCSF’s associate vice chancellor of workforce development.

Students in architecture, art, and engineering will help create the makerspaces this fall, which will be located in the Evans Center, the Rosenberg Library, and the Science Building. In the fall of 2018, CCSF will also launch a maker certificate.

Discuss in the FAMU-FSU CCSF Grants forum thread at

[Sources: FAMU Forward, San Francisco Examiner]
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