Tennessee Tech Adds Chapter To Cyber-Physical Labs Textbook

Tennessee Tech University wants to make 3D printing accessible to more people. Dr. Ismail Fidan and a team of additive manufacturing (AM) experts contributed to a new Springer textbook: Cyber-Physical Laboratories in Engineering and Science Education, to show how they intend to make remote access to an AM lab possible.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, continues to grow in popularity and as an approach to teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). But the cost of the machines prohibits many educational institutions from purchasing, so Dr. Fidan and his colleagues pondered how they could grant remote access to more teachers and students. In this textbook chapter, the authors introduce a novel concept of accessing external AM laboratories via smartphones and advanced computer technologies.

The chapter, The Development and Implementation of Instruction and Remote Access Components of Additive Manufacturing, showcases the TTU Engineering department’s project to create a smartphone application that links AM labs to each other. It lists the pros and cons of contemporary practices to make a lab available online. The chapter also highlights the components and processes they used to build the lab and run it remotely. To broaden resources in AM teaching and workforce development, four institutions were part of the remote AM collaboration network project.

AM Remote Access Network: Technical Details

According to Dr. Fidan: “The AM Remote Access Network, AM laboratories are linked with exceptionally precise network cameras. All network cameras are equipped with two-way communication, infrared night vision, an SD card slot, digital zoom (x10), pan and tilt abilities, and motion alerts. They also have two-way audio connection, which is a useful feature that lets anyone chat with the laboratory personnel through the remote access. These cameras also let users monitor the part production from start to end and inform the laboratory personnel when there is an issue. Currently, the system does not provide any control on the design software tools, but lets the users access the laboratory, watch the production real time, and see the finished product without any delay.”

TTU Remote AM Lab at Univ of Louisville

The TTU College of Engineering is proving that owning a 3D printer is not the only way to help your students create a 3D printed object. As part of their project, Dr. Ismail Fidan and team developed a remote-access smartphone application that made it easy to connect to the AM network and lab. In the future, more remote access networks and labs will be built giving teachers and students’ ways to test this method for their classrooms.

The chapter authors:

  • Ismail Fidan, College of Engineering, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee, US.
  • Amy Elliott, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville, Tennessee, US.
  • Mel Cossette, National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education, Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood, Washington, US.
  • Thomas Singer, The Science, Mathematics and Engineering Division, Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio, US.
  • Ed Tackett, J B Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, US.

The Springer textbook, Cyber-Physical Laboratories in Engineering and Science Education, editors:

  • Michael E. Auer, Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Villach, Austria
  • Arthur Edwards, University of Colima, Colima, Mexico
  • Abul K.M. Azad, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
  • Ton de Jong, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands

Acknowledgements: This work is part of a larger project funded by the Advanced Technological Education Program of the National Science Foundation, DUE #1601587.

Virtual Reality Workshop For Digital Manufacturing Education

The TEAMM project is hosting a two-day workshop on using virtual reality technology as a classroom tool. It will be hosted at Edmonds Community College on August 22 and 23 at Monroe Hall.

The 2-day workshop is sponsored by Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources (MANEUVER), an NSF project, and will be covering VR-based digital manufacturing (DM) instruction modules.

This workshop is directed towards community college instructors and high-school teachers interested in digital manufacturing instruction using virtual reality tools and techniques. There is no fee to register; Washington State Clock Hours are available; and seating is limited.

  • If you are interested to attend at Edmonds Community College, please contact Robin Ballard for the August 22-23 workshop in Washington. Here is the EventBrite invite page.
  • If you are interested in the Purdue University workshop for July 17 – 18, contact Magesh Chandramouli.
  • For the Tennessee Tech University (TTU) workshop on July 28 – 29, contact Ismail Fidan.

To learn more about how manufacturing and VR are coming together, here is a brief abstract (from the NSF grant page) of the work that Magesh Chandramouli is doing:

Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources) is developing an affordable virtual reality (VR) framework to address the imminent demand for well-trained digital manufacturing (DM) technicians. Over half of the 3.5 million required manufacturing positions in the US are expected to go unfilled due to a “skills gap”. Employment projections show a decline in conventional manufacturing jobs with marked growth in DM jobs. This VR instructional framework, targeted at two and four year programs, will not only advance the field of DM, but will also strengthen education by remedying the lack of clearly defined career/educational pathway(s) for entry-level DM technicians.

MANEUVER is developing an innovative multi-modal VR framework for DM instruction. This framework decouples the 3D DM database from functionalities, thus giving the instructional designer access through immersive, augmented, and desktop VR. Instead of pairing functionalities with the VR database, which prevents access by other modes, the decoupled approach allows for mode-independent approach, facilitating affordable access and broader implementation. The resultant curricular modules can be replicated for use on multiple machines without additional costs. During manufacturing process training, VR tools serve as a viable alternative offering a cost and material-efficient solution. Industry standard software and hardware is being used to develop and deliver advanced DM exercises for instructional and training purposes. Using a “train-the-trainers” approach, a replicable faculty development model is being developed for secondary and post-secondary institutions. By addressing regional and national entry-level workforce needs, the project benefits society and contributes to national economic progress and prosperity.

You can also read how The Facility is a partner of Purdue’s work: “VR Lab at The FACILITY Makerspace at Edmonds Community College.”

VR Lab at The FACILITY Makerspace at Edmonds Community College

 

RAND Publication Explores Additive Manufacturing in 2040

TEAMM Principal Investigator, Mel Cossette, was recently interviewed for a special report by RAND Corporation: Additive Manufacturing in 2040. The report subtitle: Powerful Enabler, Disruptive Threat looks at how companies, and by extension, educators, might want to prepare for various challenges and big opportunities facing the growing AM opportunities.

RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis, produced the report as part of a broader effort of its RAND Ventures to look at security challenges our world may face in the next 20-plus years. The research was conducted within the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security.

As additive manufacturing (AM) technician education increases, it is helpful to look at the effects of political, technological, social, and demographic trends facing 3D printing. This short, free report may give future graduates ideas for new AM products and services. RAND’s report aims to do just that and increase awareness of how our uses of AM might profoundly impact global and local economies.

While the report looked specifically at international security, and threats to it, it also alludes to ways manufacturers will be affected as businesses. It digs into the history, the value of AM, and its growth:

“The use of AM within various industries, both traditional manufacturing and more niche applications, has grown dramatically in recent years. However, not all industries and products will be equally affected. Despite some optimists’ predictions that AM will become ubiquitous, the benefits and costs of this technology will likely vary widely across sectors. Eventually, some products could be entirely produced through AM, radically transforming these industries, but others might remain fairly constant as traditional manufacturing methods continue to dominate in price and quality.”

As the RAND report makes suggestions for how companies and governments will want to prepare for a secure future, students and technicians can use this report to consider career directions and business opportunities they might want to pursue. Download the Additive Manufacturing in 2040 report.

Disney Research Uses Materials Science To Invent Touchscreen Walls With Conductive Paint

Materials science is a somewhat quiet revolution. Many of the biggest and most valuable inventions have been fueled by materials science innovations over decades. From the foundational computer chip (made from silicon material, of course) to clusters of supercomputers at the Materials Project, research teams are now doing analysis and predictions of how materials can be combined in the most efficient way possible.

A practical outcome of this sort of advanced materials research is a project between Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research – that has found a way to change the wall in your home or apartment into a touchscreen interface.

According to the researchers, “the technique involves using water-based nickel conductive paint to create an electrode pattern (a diamond arrangement) suited to capacitive and proximity (electromagnetic) EM sensing. The pattern is then overpainted with latex paint. Each row and column is then connected to a sensor board based on a 96 MHz Cortex M4 running Teensy 3.2 firmware and piped to a laptop for visualization.”

In a nutshell, you could touch the wall to turn on a light – or the electromagnetic sensing would note your presence, your gestures, or your motion to perform an action – much like smart device users are starting to use the Amazon Echo to turn on a light or adjust the air conditioning with a voice command.

Importance to Materials Science Technician Education

The researchers call their system “Wall++” and believe that you could run a light switch or thermostat or other controllers from the wall itself. These materials science research projects are likely to create entire new categories of jobs for people to install, maintain, and service these advanced systems.

For more ideas or direction about advanced materials science technician training in the real world, check out the Nano-Link Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education, a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program, that provides information on nano-tech and nano-materials. One of their industry affiliate partners is the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) which lists labs, tools, and experts.

Materials science may not be in the daily news, but it is consistently making headlines. A bright future is ahead for advanced materials and the technicians who want to be part of it.

Resources:

Hat tip to Peter Diamandis, profiled here in the AM News post, Materials Science and Additive Manufacturing Technology Convergence, in one of his recent email newsletters, shared an article link about the Disney Research work. The newsletter summary linked to this article at The Register: Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls.

Here is the link to the Materials Project site mentioned above.

Somerset Community College Offers 3D Printing Technician Certificate

In February, Tennessee Tech University (TTU) College of Engineering announced its Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series, an online webinar event that reaches people around the world. The third lecture focuses on a relatively new 3D printing technician certificate offered at Somerset Community College (SCC).

The formal title of the third lecture in the series is “AM Research and Applications for Real World Production and Impact” with Eric N. Wooldridge, PE, RA, Professor of Additive Manufacturing, Workforce Development, and Pre-Engineering at SCC, Kentucky.

All across the USA, industry is increasingly interested in training for 3D printing. Not many schools offer a degree in 3D printing (yet), two or four year, and fewer have specialized certificates for those interested in the field. From automotive to aerospace, biomedical to home improvement to Hollywood special effects, additive manufacturing training is forecasted for growth.

Somerset Community College (SCC) is the first institution of higher education in Kentucky to offer a statewide certificate in additive manufacturing. In fact, it is one of the few in the nation and comes up early in a Google search for a related search, such as, “3D printing technician certificate schools colleges.”

Professor Wooldridge explains:

The move to go “certificate” is because industry is asking for students with skills as fast as possible whether referring to additive or welding, it wants technicians that can produce and can produce now. Additive manufacturing is still hardly known and relatively misunderstood, so we created the one-year certificate to allow various Somerset degree programs to add these skills into their Associates degree path and help to integrate additive within the company along with their primary job.  We wanted to create an additive “foothold” situation within our state so that existing manufacturers will have someone on the inside that can help them transition faster to the technology instead of lagging behind the curve of their competitors.

We also created a demonstration process to entice industry leaders to consider additive within their own operations.  We call it the “Netflix deal” where a company can come to us to try an idea with 3D printing – we’ll will take out all the risk of equipment cost, and the need for expertise, etc., produce a demonstration example for them relative to their operations (sort of like a Netflix trial that hooks you into the service).

After the experience, most will immediately want to do this on their own – so they send us employees for training – in some cases just one employee, in others we have trained 7 people for 16 hours of one-on-one training, or more accurately, re-training. Local employers have been very interested, supportive, and tapping into this new educational technology opportunity.  Over time, the goal is for graduating students to get hired at these same types of companies. 

But in either approach we are steadily making progress in integrating practical 3D printing applications into our region and our entire state.  So that we will have a workforce well suited for implementing cutting edge manufacturing innovations, as well as creating an ideal economic investment opportunity for tier one companies.

You can find a host of resources on the SCC web page here on the “Research and Grant Materials” folder (marked with the red arrow via the link/image above). Professor Wooldridge has a variety of terrific case studies, videos, materials testing projects and photos, as well as some program brochures. All of this is in a shared cloud storage drive.

Here are some of the courses required for the 3D Printing Technician-Level 1 Certificate (Total: 16 to 18 credit hours):

  • DPT 100 Introduction to 3D Printing Technology
  • DPT 102 3D Printing Technology Fundamentals
  • BAS 160 Introduction to Business
  • BAS 170 Entrepreneurship
  • DPT 150 Introduction to Engineering Mechanics for 3D Printing
  • DPT 280 Special Projects for 3D Printing, Level 1
  • A related technical elective
  • A related technical elective