UNM Valencia to Offer 3D Printing Mini-Certification with 12-Hour Semester Course

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unmThey’ve taken on 3D printing at University of New Mexico’s Valencia campus, and the results are pretty spectacular. Equipment made its way onto the campus a couple of years ago, and 3D modeling classes have been in full swing with students 3D printing items like molecular models, quadcopter components, stunning dinosaur skulls, architectural models, and 3D scanned portraits for the campus’ art department. Now, thanks to a recently approved proposal, 3D printing classes are about to become even more legit at UNM Valencia.

As the engineering and manufacturing industries clamor for new hires with 3D printing expertise, a number of schools not only are paying attention to the demand and lack of supply, but are also upping their game by seeing that students graduate with modern, relevant skills.

unm valenciaIn a world where a big topic in education and employment is that of young people graduating with expensive degrees and only a sliver of a hope for real jobs in the real world, many learning institutions are creating new programs in direct answer to what some of the industry giants are requiring and seeking.

This is also what drives the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education agenda, with very good reason, creating opportunities for students to have exposure not only to the corresponding disciplines but to show them how fascinating and fun the courses and hands-on experience can be.

With all of this in mind, not to mention a simple growing interest and momentum in 3D printing within the university, UNM Valencia is currently offering 3D computer modeling with 3D printers purchased with their Carl Perkins CTE grant. As enthusiasm and popularity for the technology grow, the university has decided to begin offering a mini-certification program, which should be a boon to the new resumes of a number of future graduates seeking promising careers. The certification course has a $25 tech fee for students and offers 12 credit hours, with classes in:

  • Intro to 3D Printing
  • Modeling for 3D Printing
  • 3D Printing Project

Beginning this fall, consisting of class lectures and lab classes, the classes will prepare students with everything they need to know about the basics in 3D design and 3D printing, with a focus on hands-on experience.

“Adding new programs of study in response to technological change and economic opportunity is one of our roles as a community college,” said Professor Alex Sanchez, lead faculty for the program. “The hope is that these courses will give students the foundation needed to work for companies using this technology, to start their own businesses providing this service or to use the technology to prototype their own designs.”

A proponent for teaching the students about new technology changing industry processes, Sanchez has been at Valencia since 1983 teaching 3D modeling as well as computer engineering.

With certification comes the promise that students at Valencia understand 3D printing and how the equipment works, are experienced in working with CAD files, and can apply that all to producing 3D printed models that serve a function.

“In general, we plan to use this technology to print objects that inspire, educate or serve a real need — the applications are seemingly unlimited,” Sanchez said.

“Worldwide, 3D printing is being used in all the engineering disciplines, medicine, product design and art. Buildings are being 3D printed at the large end of the scale and super-efficient surfaces for solar PV cells at the nano end of the scale. Objects are being printed using plastic, metal, ceramic, living cells and food.”

projectsStudents at Valencia not only have the opportunity to graduate with credits that will be helpful to them in seeking jobs, but they are receiving quality instruction from experienced 3D printing users who can really help prepare them for valuable careers in manufacturing and engineering where 3D printing skills are a requirement. UNM Valencia does make it clear also that the one-semester courses are open to any students who have an interest in 3D design and 3D printing.

How do you think having this mini-certification will give new graduates a leg up in getting jobs? Do you attend or do you know someone who attends a school offering similar courses? Tell us your thoughts in the UNM Valencia Offers 3D Printing Mini-Certification forum over at 3DPB.com.

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