This NSF IUSE project is on the Exploration and Design Tier and the Engaged Student Learning Track. It is aimed at better preparing the country’s professional workforce in the renaissance of U.S. skilled manufacturing by creating new personnel proficient in additive manufacturing (AM). AM is mainstream; it has the potential to bring jobs back to the U.S. and add to the nation’s global competitiveness. AM is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D data in a layer upon layer fashion.
The objectives are to develop, assess, revise, and disseminate an upper division course and laboratory, “Additive Manufacturing,” and to advance undergraduate and K-12 student research and creative inquiry activities as well as faculty expertise at three diverse participating universities: Texas Tech, California State-Northridge, and Kansas State. This research/pedagogical team contains a mechanical engineering professor at each university to develop and teach the course, as well as a sociologist trained in K-12 outreach, course assessment, and human subjects research to accurately determine the effects on K-12 and undergraduate students.
The proposed course will cover extrusion-based, liquid-based, and powder-based AM processes. For each technology, fundamentals, applications, and advances will be discussed. Students will learn solutions to AM of polymers, metals, and ceramics. Two lab projects will be built to provide hands-on experiences on a variety of state-of-the-art 3D printers. To stimulate innovation, students will design, fabricate, and measure test parts, and will perform experiments to explore process limits and tackle real world problems. They will also engage K-12 students through video demonstrations and mentorship, thus developing presentation skills.
Through the project, different pedagogical techniques and assessment tools will be utilized to assess and improve engineering education at both the undergraduate and K-12 levels through varied techniques: i) undergraduate module lesson plans that are scalable to K-12 levels, ii) short informational video lessons created by undergraduates for K-12 students with accompanying in-person mentorship activities at local high schools and MakerSpaces, iii) pre- and post-test assessments of undergraduates’ and K-12 participating students’ AM knowledge, skills, and perceptions of self-efficacy, and iv) focus groups to learn about student concerns/learning challenges. We will also track students institutionally and into their early careers to learn about their use of AM technology professionally.
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