newpaltzlogoA lot can happen in one year — and you’re well aware of that if you follow technology — and especially the industry of 3D printing. At SUNY New Paltz, they are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their MakerBot Innovation Center. It wasn’t long ago that such an idea was indeed revolutionary, with 3D printing barely in the realm of most people’s imaginations, much less envisioned as planted in various institutions, retail outlets, and even offered free in public libraries.

Jennifer-Lawton-save-the-dateAs more and more 3D printing centers take hold worldwide, MakerBot and SUNY are celebrating a year of technology and innovation with a talk by MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton as she addresses the current status of 3D printing, and what’s in its future in a speech titled “12 Years from Now,” on Wednesday, February 25, at 4:30 p.m., in Lecture Center 100, at SUNY New Paltz.

One year ago, the State University of New York at New Paltz was the only university participant in the new program for offering MakerBot Innovation Centers to learning institutions. Just 90 minutes from New York City, New Paltz is responsible for educating about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and is a highly respected university offering majors in business, liberal arts and sciences, engineering, fine and performing arts, and education.

The Innovation Centers are meant not only to introduce the technology to students but to seriously pump up the 3D printing action with multiple 3D printers, the opportunity for tremendous collaboration, and all-around innovation, communication, and inspiration — with young inventors feeding off of one others’ energy as well as the excitement of using a new technology that opens up such an enormous new world of possibility. It’s also meant to be shared with the community and bridge a relationship with local businesses.

And according to Donald Christian, President of SUNY New Paltz, it sounds like that is exactly what happened as he reports that the Innovation Center was very enthusiastically received on campus, as well as by the business community nearby, and also in advancing the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) as a major hub for innovative manufacturing technology in the Hudson Valley. Because of HVAMC’s elevated status, the center gained attention — and funding — allowing expansion and a continued role in the community for providing 3D printing expertise to many businesses in the area.

The Innovation Center led to a stronger connection in the business community than anyone projected, and resulted in a $10 million NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant by Governor Andrew Cuomo in the autumn of 2014 to the university for forging an Engineering Innovation Hub, along with $850,000 in capital funding for a new 3D printing laboratory. A 3D printing curriculum was established in the School of Science and Engineering and in another benefit it was responsible for bringing together both art and engineering students as well as collaborations with the business community in creating 3D models and working on actual manufacturing projects.

Makerbot_Innovation_CenterAs enthusiasm and participation in 3D printing grew regarding the Innovation Center, so did inspiration and innovation pouring forth, with 3D designed and printed inventions like:

  • Prosthetics
  • An industrial venting system
  • A 3D printed “robohand” for a six-year-old boy
  • The Life Grip, a motorcycle grip that allows drivers to use the horn more easily

“The MakerBot Innovation Center has been hugely successful here at SUNY New Paltz, and the interest from both students and industry has exceeded even our wildest expectations,” said Dan Freedman, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering. “MakerBot put us on the map as an innovation leader. We’ve seen huge interest from companies looking for talent with additive manufacturing experience, and the number of inquiries we get from local business and industry grows daily. Students who learn about 3D printing at SUNY New Paltz will have a significant competitive advantage when they start looking for jobs after they graduate.”

The center has caught on with continuing education courses, which are available to anyone in the community, and other workshops regarding 3D design and 3D printing are available as well.

“We’re really proud of the success that SUNY New Paltz has had with its MakerBot Innovation Center in just one year and how they were able to use 3D printing to foster science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education,” said Jenny Lawton, CEO of MakerBot. “The interest from companies that are looking to hire talent with additive manufacturing experience is increasing significantly. SUNY New Paltz has found a unique way of satisfying that demand by bringing together art and engineering students with local businesses through 3D printing. The results are inspiring, and we can’t wait to see what they will be able to achieve in the future.”

What’s possible in the future will be the main focus as they celebrate their first anniversary with the MakerBot Innovation Center, and regarding the talk being given by Lawton, I know I’m certainly interested to know what’s in Lawton’s crystal ball for twelve years from now — aren’t you?

Have you visited a MakerBot Innovation Center in your area? Have you noticed a direct correlation between the centers and a strengthening between learning institutions and businesses? Tell us your thoughts in the SUNY New Paltz forum over at 3DBP.com.

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