Auburn and Huntsville City Schools partner to give students experience in additive manfacturing


Auburn University’s National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence (NCAME) has announced a scheme to increase the number of students gaining practical experience in industrial 3D printing. 

An expansion of its partnership with Huntsville City Schools in Alabama, the new program seeks to enable students in the district to graduate high school with a certificate in additive manufacturing, while also earning college credits for their work. Representatives from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) contributed towards the establishment of the program. Previously, NCAME had worked with Huntsville City Schools to install two EOS M290 3D printers in schools within the district. 

“Teaching students additive manufacturing concepts in high school is important because we need workforce in the field at all levels, from those who graduate high school with some credits and go straight to the workforce, to those who go to graduate school to become scientists to advance our technologies,” commented Nima Shamsaei, director of NCAME. 

“Transformative additive manufacturing research and development depends on workers who can think between and across disciplines.”

Team members from NCAME, Huntsville City Schools, and EOS worked together to bring online the district’s second industrial 3D printer at Grissom High School. Photo via Auburn University.
Team members from NCAME, Huntsville City Schools, and EOS worked together to bring online the district’s second industrial 3D printer at Grissom High School. Photo via Auburn University.

The National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence

NCAME was founded by Auburn University in 2017, in conjunction with NASA. The center is a public-private partnership between Auburn academics and more than 70 industry, governmental and research partners. It was established to advance fundamental and applied additive manufacturing research and contribute to workforce development. Focusing on areas of immediate importance to the wider manufacturing and standardization industry, NCAME conducts research across several valuable areas within 3D printing, including design, material development, post-processing and qualification.

A significant element of the center’s mission is to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines by providing opportunities to schools to investigate and develop additive manufacturing technologies.  

In October 2018, NCAME formed an initial partnership with Huntsville City Schools and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Command (AMRDEC). The partnership aimed to further education and workforce development in additive manufacturing from high school through to graduate-level training. NCAME researchers were tasked with training students and teachers from Huntsville City Schools using two EOS M290 metal 3D printers, one located at Jemison High School and the other at Grissom High School. 

Auburn engineering dean Christopher B. Roberts signs the memorandum of understanding with Huntsville City Schools superintendent Christie Finley. Photo via Auburn University.
Auburn engineering dean Christopher B. Roberts signs the memorandum of understanding with Huntsville City Schools superintendent Christie Finley. Photo via Auburn University.

The Huntsville City Schools program

Recently NCAME helped Calhoun Community College and the University of Alabama in Huntsville implement a pilot program focused on metal additive manufacturing. In July, a team of representatives from NASA’s MSFC, CCDC, Auburn University and Huntsville City Schools sought to replicate the Calhoun Community College additive manufacturing program for Huntsville City Schools. The group outlined a strategy for students to graduate high school with a certificate in additive manufacturing, consisting of an academic pathway and curriculum. Allowing students to earn college credits by participating in the program will facilitate the potential for the students to pursue further education in the future. 

“With Auburn’s leadership, a Center of Excellence was formed that will structure an academic pathway for our students to gain the experience and knowledge to enter the workforce, or continue their education into a two-year training program or a university,” added Todd Watkins, director of Career Technical Education for Huntsville City Schools. “Auburn University, along with the district’s Career and Technical teachers, will develop a curriculum and bring real-world projects to high school students which are the essential parts of a successful learning experience.” 

Advancing STEM education with additive manufacturing

Various educational programs centering on additive manufacturing have been established to facilitate STEM/STEAM curriculum within schools. Award winning OEM GE Additive has a yearly Additive Education Program (AEP) that focuses on providing desktop 3D printers and packages to primary and secondary schools, with a particular focus on K-12 students. The company announced that it expects AEP to provide over one million students the opportunity to use 3D printing by 2020. 

Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer XYZprinting also offers a K-12 STEAM curriculum designed to facilitate the use of 3D printers in the classroom. It comes equipped with step-by-step instructions for teachers to help provide engaging lessons with a 3D printer. 

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Featured image shows team members from NCAME, Huntsville City Schools, and EOS worked together to bring online the district’s second industrial 3D printer at Grissom High School. Photo via Auburn University.





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