Online Learning In The Age Of COVID-19 And Beyond

Image Courtesy of Zoom Video Communications

By now, it is fairly clear that the delivery of education has changed. With no in-person, on-campus classes and nearly everything online, we have moved into a new era, whether we like it or not. COVID-19 may soon be stopped by way of a vaccine, but its impact is undeniable. 

Thanks to Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Tennessee Tech University, AM News started exploring what online learning looks like, on the ground, for the Spring semester and future ones. Since most of you were thrown into the virtual learning, distance learning, remote learning world (pick your term), we uncovered many great resources ideas we hope will help you plan and build your courses and teaching methods.

Dr. Fidan faces some of the same challenges that many professors face — how to teach an in-person lab when you cannot meet in person. He shared that he was able to build his own virtual lab, and help his colleagues with theirs, to develop materials for ZOOM and TTU’s use of Desire2Learn’s BrightSpace learning management system platform. 

In the Plant Layout and Materials Handling course, students do their design work by accessing the virtual laboratory of Tennessee Tech, quickly developed by the Information Technology Services team. Using the commercial VMware Horizon application, students join the laboratory and complete their assignments remotely using AutoCAD 2020.

In the CNC Machining Practices course, students use the Autodesk Fusion 360 software tool (again via remote access). This is a cutting-edge simulation tool for CNC machining operations. Anything they program also functions the same as in real cutting operations.

Although the MatEdU free resources were not built for remote learning specifically, you can find a wide range of materials science curricula that may guide your next steps to planning online courses. Visit the MatEdU Modules page or the Instructional Resources page. Here are five additional sites packed with even more ideas. 

Regardless of which technology platform your school uses, here are several other resources that may provide useful tips and techniques:

Wohlers Report 2020 Shows Additive Manufacturing $12 Billion Industry Growth

Wohlers Report 2020
Wohlers Report 2020

Each year, the Wohlers Report highlights the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. The Wohlers Report 2020 revealed that the 2019 additive manufacturing (AM) industry, consisting of all AM products and services worldwide, grew 21.2 percent to $11.867 billion. 

In addition to all of the industry data, the report digs into three areas near to the hearts of AM News readers: TEAMM, Materials, and academic endeavors.

To start, Mel Cossette, Executive Director/Principal Investigator for the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and TEAMM Project, provides an update of the TEAMM Network activities, including:

      • The TEAMM website has 11 curated educational modules, which help classroom teachers include approved AM content quickly in their curricula. Modules include Materials for 3D Printing by Fused Deposition and Additive Manufactured Polymers in Bending Stress. Both basic and advanced options are offered. These modules are freely available on the website with videos and other educational resources. 
      • TEAMM also continues to participate in the ASTM F42 Technical Committee on Additive Manufacturing Technologies and provides input on global AM standards. 

The Materials section of the Wohlers Report gives a comprehensive summary with highlights about a niche filament material maker, Taulman3D, which has been instrumental in bringing new 3D printing materials to market for the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) method. In 2012, material filament choices were ABS or PLA. Now, there are dozens of types of new materials and Taulman3D led the charge with a nylon copolymer. 

Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor in Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Tennessee Tech University, provides an international glimpse into the many activities happening at colleges, universities, and research institutes – almost 140 of them. Here are just a few examples:

      • The University of North Texas has established the Center for Agile and Adaptive AM with 2-year support of $10 million from the State of Texas Legislature.
      • HP, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and National Research Foundation Singapore have established the HP – NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Laboratory on AM, an $84 million project.
      • In Late 2019, the U.S. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for research and Engineering selected 7 awardees for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program. These distinguished educational and Industry partners are receiving more than $32 million over a three-year period.

Although 2020 has presented some rather large challenges to financial growth, the future of additive manufacturing still has a bright future, partly due to the many initiatives that have shone a light on what 3D printing can do (as highlighted in recent AM News posts highlighted below). The Wohlers Report 2020 gives us evidence of the industry’s resilience and enthusiasm on both an individual and corporate level. There is hope and opportunity thanks to people who know how to create and make, no matter the circumstances or difficulties around them. 


Two posts highlighting the way 3D printing has helped during the Coronavirus pandemic:

An earlier version of this post was published at Forbes: Additive Manufacturing Industry Grows To Almost 12 Billion In 2019.

Disclosure: I received a media copy of the Wohlers Report to review.

Serving In A Time Of Crisis: Edmonds College Makerspace Designs PPE

The groundswell of support from maker communities around the USA and the world to 3D print face shields, or sew DIY cloth face masks, is making a difference for healthcare workers on the front lines battling COVID-19. Much of that work started in Washington State and the Northwest. At Edmonds College, a small team began working on its own version of a sustainable, durable face shield. 

Thanks to the encouragement and support of Edmonds College President, Dr. Amit B. Singh, the college makerspace leaders at The Facility began work immediately on a sustainable personal protective equipment (PPE) design to test with area healthcare professionals.

Dubbed “ED19,” the  face shield under development at Edmonds College is currently undergoing informal field tests at Skagit Valley Hospital, Mt Vernon, and St Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham. The ED19 is targeted at frontline healthcare workers: Emergency Medical Technicians, Nurses, and Doctors. 

FaceShield-PolyTop
FaceShield-PolyTop

“First, while it is really cool that people are 3d printing PPE (for the record I’m a BIG fan of distributed production) it still takes a very long time to print a single part. By sourcing replacement headgear for welding helmets we can offer a solution that is more durable, more adjustable, and more comfortable at a very competitive price,” said David Voetmann, The Facility program manager. 

Using mostly off-the-shelf products and components, gives Voetmann and his team a chance to test and modify rapidly. Even more importantly, perhaps, is his second purpose: “the real point is exploring a transition away from our current disposable mentality.” His goal is to make this face shield, or any PPE, as reusable as possible. Some of it has to be disposable, of course, for a myriad of safety reasons, but as a culture we could shift to products that are cleaned and used more than once, when possible. 

FaceShield-CardDown
Early Tests with Cardboard: FaceShield-CardDown

Voetmann is clear that he is not suggesting that current 3D printing efforts are unnecessary, far from it, he applauds and supports their efforts. He wants to look beyond the current crisis to how we might reduce future pandemic impact as well as find a more sustainable, earth-friendly method for healthcare use for years to come. This product could reduce the consumption rate of PPE.

FaceShield-Iterations
FaceShield-Iterations

As makers and students and staff have taken on tasks to help 3D print or sew or model various possible PPE solutions, the foundation for student learning is built into the program at Edmonds College — one that The National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and the TEAMM project have helped bring to reality thanks to National Science Foundation grant funds. In part, Monroe Hall is filled with materials science equipment and advanced manufacturing machines due to NSF grants and teamwork, for student use in the Engineering Technology Lab, as well as for the community via The Facility Maker Space. 

As the COVID19 pandemic shows signs of slowing, it is far from over and the work aimed at sustainable solutions as well as the short-term PPE needs that can be solved with 3D printing will continue. It is up to us to continue encouraging and helping students and volunteers around the country as they find and build solutions. 

In My Edmonds News, the article Edmonds College prototypes, manufactures face shields to meet COVID-19 needs of health care workers interviews Dr. Singh and his thoughts summarize this post well: “We are trying to do our small part to meet the urgent needs of our community and its health care workers,” said Edmonds College President Dr. Amit B. Singh. “We’ve responded rapidly and created innovative processes at both our makerspace and aerospace training center to meet this need.

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Note: We highlight and applaud the efforts of many educational institutions working to put PPE into the hands of healthcare workers. Here are a few highlights in the recent AM News post: Editor’s Corner: 3D Printers Rally To Help Stem COVID-19: Your Help Is Needed. Tennessee Tech and University of Louisville are mentioned. We are doing an update that includes other college initiatives. 

 

Prestigious Caplenor Award From Tennessee Tech Awarded To Dr. Ismail Fidan

The Caplenor Faculty Research Award Committee at Tennessee Tech recently awarded Dr. Ismail Fidan the 2019-20 Caplenor Faculty Research Award which is the highest faculty honor of the university. As an important and valued member of our TEAMM Network as well as a regular content provider here on AM News, we wish him a hearty kudos for work well done.
 
Dr Ismail Fidan TTU Engineering Faculty v2
Dr Ismail Fidan at Tennessee Tech

According to university history, “Dr. Caplenor’s efforts led to the creation of an award in his honor in 1984. The Caplenor Faculty Research Award is given to faculty who are engaged in outstanding research while employed at the University, and the winner receives a monetary award and a listing on a permanent plaque displayed in Derryberry Hall. As of 2016, 37 faculty have received the award, which has become the premiere recognition of faculty scholarship and creativity at TTU.”

Selection for the Caplenor Faculty Research Award is a lengthy, rigorous, peer-reviewed process that evaluates a faculty member’s performance as measured by contributions to scholarship and/or creativity that received wide recognition far beyond the University. There are numerous areas for potential contribution, and eight major criteria for nomination, including, to name just a few:

      • Significant recognized peer-reviewed publications, including work with her/his students and collaborators in the field of scholarship or creativity.
      • Presentations such as seminars, lectures, performances, galleries, etc. related to her/his field of scholarship or creativity, including those made by invitation as keynote and/or plenary lectures.
      • Contributions to the profession such as membership on editorial boards, editing journals, special issues, books, etc. and the organization of professional meetings (technical, educational, art exhibitions, etc.)

As just one example of Dr. Ismail Fidan’s dedication to research and creativity at TTU: Over many years his efforts to understand and push the boundaries of what is possible with additive manufacturing is paying dividends now in this moment of crisis. He and his engineering students turned the university makerspace, STEM Center, and department labs into 24/7 3D print shops for COVID-19 protective face shield parts serving state and national needs. 

Under his guidance, the university was also awarded an NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project grant to establish the Additive Manufacturing Coalition and Hub (AM-WATCH). That network is also supporting the university’s efforts around COVID-19. As we shared in the AM News post, the 3D printing COVID-19 effort has produced thousands of face shields (personal protective equipment or PPE) for area first responders and other healthcare professionals.

It is said that Dr. Caplenor symbolized the essence of teaching and research. He was “trained to be a scientist, and he practiced his science with all the intellectual rigor attendant to his profession. But he also had the feeling of a poet and artist,” said former TTU President Arliss Roaden. According to others, “teaching for [Dr. Caplenor] was as natural as his breathing.” 

For those of us who know Dr. Fidan, and for those yet to meet him, we at AM News believe the Caplenor award also recognizes these amazing traits and steadfast dedication in our colleague and friend. Congratulations on your achievement, Dr. Ismail Fidan. 

Here are a few of his other achievements that may inspire your additive manufacturing ambitions:

Due to his innovation-mindedness, he has received the TTU’s Sissom Innovation and Creativity Award three times and the TBR (Tennessee Board of Regents) Lana Doncaster Innovation Award twice. His team is tasked to “innovate in and for additive manufacturing.” Here are a few of his active research projects in Additive Manufacturing:

1) They are working to develop lightweight low-cost sustainable composite printed parts for the automotive and dental industries.

2) They are developing low-cost metal 3D Printed parts for the industry overall.

3) They invented a 3D Printer that can dispense any paste type materials (shown in video above).

4) He and his team developed remote access features and apps to help additive manufacturing labs around the nation.

5) In coordination with Somerset Community College, they created a mobile learning AM platform.

Finally, if you have been seeking to learn more about the cutting edge of additive manufacturing, the TTU Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series brings experts in from around the world for a virtual lecture. Dr. Fidan and team have been doing it for the last nine semesters (4.5 years).

Editor’s Corner: 3D Printers Rally To Help Stem COVID-19: Your Help Is Needed

COVID19, aka Coronavirus, is taking its toll on all of us, in a variety of ways. So as I kick off an Editors Corner post here on AM News, I want to use it to update you on positive news all across the Additive Manufacturing and Materials Science communities. 

People are coming together to 3D print, to sew (yes, handmade cloth DIY masks – more on this below, hang on), and explore and test materials for the certified N95 respirators and surgical masks. Plus, I will share a couple of stories from within our community of two educators working tirelessly to 3D print face shield parts for use by those on the front lines. 

At Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Ismail Fidan and team have turned the university makerspace, STEM Center, and department labs into 24/7 3D print shops for COVID-19 protective face shield parts. The University also has a very well-established Additive Manufacturing Coalition and Hub established with an NSF award. Their network is also supporting the university’s efforts.

So far, they have printed 381 masks (as of March 25) that went to the state directly for final assembly and distribution to healthcare professionals. The TTU Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering are running 30-plus 3D printers across the two labs. (Short video with them loading up a box of parts.). The Tennessee Tech team plans to keep printing since there are still more production requests and needs from the state.

University of Louisville runs one of the top Additive Manufacturing programs and has an amazing 3D printing facility for training and workforce development. I spent time there a few years back visiting Ed Tackett who runs it when I happened to be driving across the country (not 3DRV, another time). You can read more about their COVID-19 efforts here: Students Producing 3D Printed Face Shields For Healthcare Professionals. Ed is helping nationwide with people trying to sort out how to print at the highest possible quality and speed. 

UofL AMIST 3D Printing Face Shield Parts
Graduate assistant and student Kate Schneidau oversees the 3D printing of face shields for local health care professionals in response to the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Image Courtesy of University of Louisville.

Normally, I do not cross-link (although there’s nothing wrong with doing it) between my work at Forbes and my National Science Foundation grant project work, but we are in uncharted waters and all the resources we can share with one another, well, it may save a life. If you have a project you are working on related to COVID-19, please get in touch and we will consider adding it here. 

If you are looking for a way to get you or your students involved (great remote, work-from-home, learn-from-home potential), I encourage you to look over the different resources in these Forbes posts — there are many hands-on opportunities: 

As I explained in Forbes, “I had, like many of you, planned to attend the RAPID + TCT event in Anaheim this year. SME, the parent organization that creates the RAPID + TCT event, wisely postponed the event. I have attended several of the RAPID + TCT events and it is always amazing to connect with the community; it is more like a large family reunion, frankly…” But now, thanks to what SME has built, those same people are still coming together to solve one of the world’s greatest challenges.

If you ever wondered if 3D printing is all it claims to be, Coronavirus has helped settle that. 3D printers do all of this and more.”

Let’s close with two final examples of people coming together: 

    • MatterHackers, the largest distributor of desktop digital manufacturing equipment and materials in the USA, created an initiative called the COVID-19 Additive Manufacturing Community Response Hub and it will “connect those in the U.S. who need medical aid (Hospitals and Govt. Agencies) and those who can create it using Digital Manufacturing.” It has been live for three days and hundreds have signed up.
    • The N95 respirator mask is a one-time use item. But healthcare professionals are being asked, all around the world, to keep using the same mask repeatedly. Stanford University has helped answer the question pulling in materials scientists: Can Facial Masks be Disinfected for Re-use? Amy Price, DPhil (Oxon) and Larry Chu, MD on behalf of the Stanford AIM Lab and Learnly COVID-19 Evidence Service Stanford Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab found that it is possible. See their PDF (linked in the title above) if you are involved in any efforts to help healthcare professionals get access to N95 masks. Hint: 70°C hot air in oven, 30min (not a home oven, to be clear!). Read the PDF with loads of technical details.
Stanford N95 Reuse Studies
Stanford N95 Reuse Studies

Although we are living in challenging times, educators and researchers in the USA and internationally are working incredibly long hours to help and save others. Many of the TEAMM network members are working round the clock to provide much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by 3D printing face shields based on an open source design using PETG filament material on a wide range of 3D printers.

Coronavirus may look like it is winning, but based on these stories and dedicated people, there is hope that it will soon be defeated.