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. 

 

Introducing The AM News ‘Editor’s Corner’ Column

AM News is adding a new section called the Editor’s Corner. This new section will provide a way for us to share a variety of resources, links, projects, and other stories that we come across in our research for this site. TJ McCue, our editor, will begin sharing some personalized posts this week.

TJ here: In my work on various National Science Foundation (NSF) projects, particularly here on TEAMM and AM News, I am constantly researching and reviewing a wide range of topics that matter for technician education, materials science, and additive manufacturing. I am active in the industries that touch our educational efforts having worked as a consultant or contractor for many of the large brands that you know and love.

I have put pen to paper for a number of publications you know as well, from the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and currently Forbes in their Innovation and Consumer Tech section. I spent almost a full year on the road for a large national project known as 3DRV where I traveled the USA researching and reporting on 3D printing and 3D scanning. All that said, I am passionate about this space and care deeply about how we educate our young people to keep them ready for the future of work.

Every year, there are conferences and events that capture our attention and time. Depending on your specialties, you may visit an event focused on Materials Science, STEM Education, or 3D Printing, to name just a few that are of interest to our readers here. 

TEAMM was part of the annual M-STEM event held last year at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. The event is sponsored by the National Science Foundation as part of an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) with MatEdU, our sister organization at Edmonds Community College. If you have not visited before, MatEdU is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

At the M-STEM event, two graduate students presented (and won) an award for their work at Tennessee Tech University building a mobile 3D printer. It can work with a variety of materials from cake frosting (you read that right) to cement to paint. You can check out the YouTube video here. Although they were not present at M-STEM, TEAMM Network Member, Somerset Community College, is doing some amazing 3D printing work as well converting a $450 polymer (FFF) machine into a metal 3D printer.

If you have not visited MatEdU before, it is a clearinghouse of teaching materials including labs, hands-on demonstrations, modules and papers, which can easily be integrated into a variety of courses, class-room settings, and industry. 

An event to mark on your calendars for April 20 – 23, 2020 is probably one of the best-known conferences for 3D (celebrating its 30th Year): RAPID + TCT, the largest 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing event in North America (scroll down on that page to find student and educator discounts).

I’ll be attending this year’s RAPID+TCT event in Anaheim, California and will be reporting back to you on some of the developments for education, as well as advances in Medical Additive Manufacturing (AM), and new AM Startups (this section is not published yet) shaking up the already fast-moving world of 3D printing. Plus, there is a Student Summit

One of the goals of this new section is to give a shout out to various organizations, colleges and universities, companies, and other resources that can help you in your work with students and the public at large. Some weeks, it might be a long list; other weeks I might only have one item to share with you. 

This week I wanted to draw your attention to an affordable, do-it-yourself type microscope known as the Foldscope. According to the website, Foldscope was “invented by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski who asked themselves: What is the best microscope you can build for under $1 in parts?

Image Courtesy: Foldscope.com

“Their inspiration for the Foldscope originated from field visits around the world, where they continually encountered bulky, broken microscopes, or a lack of microscopes entirely. As traditional microscopes are often expensive or cumbersome, they realized the universal scale of this problem and the need for a low-cost, revolutionary solution.”

At the end of 2019, one million Foldscopes were found in the wild helping children and adults become citizen scientists.

May your weekend be filled with all the good materials.

NOTE: The Foldscope is made up of common, easy to get and affordable materials, however on their website a deluxe microscope sells for around $30 for one unit. I presume this is partly to fund other parts of the initiative. They sell a classroom kit of $20 that works out to a bit over $1.75 per unit. Still a deal.

An earlier version of this post was published at Medium

Materiom Is Serving As Nature’s Recipe Book For STEM Educators

If you are an educator, a maker, a biohacker, or a curious student, who is often trying to come up with recipes for #natural #materials to test out in your classroom, workshop, or lab, this Materiom site is for you. Their Materials Library is filled with “recipes” for materials you might throw away as compost-worthy, but that can be used in a variety of student projects.

Materiom Materials Library Search Tool
Materiom Materials Library Search Tool

Here are a few recipes you will find and the image above gives some ideas as to what you will find on the site. 

  • -Eggshell biocomposite
  • -Sawdust / agar
  • -Chitosan 12% – Stiff behaviour
  • -Sodium Bicarbonate / Cornstarch
  • -Green tea
  • -Kombucha fabric
  • -Agar bioplastic (heated)
  • -Coffee grounds (used)

According to their home page, “Materiom provides open data on how to make materials that nourish local economies and ecologies. We support companies, cities, and communities in creating and selecting materials sourced from locally abundant biomass that are part of a regenerative circular economy.”

Users can customize and finely tune their materials recipes for their long list of over 50 different  materials (or variations of some materials). Search their Materials Database here.

If you are anything like the team at TTU that invented the paste-based 3D printer known as the TechBot, (patent-pending) then you might be able to use one of these novel, DIY pastes found on Materiom. Both these recipes were created by Marita Sauerwein and E.L.Doubrovski. Check out the Mussel shell | alginate MS01 recipe as well as the similar Mussel shell – sucrose composite. The recipes are on a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license, but be warned, they are rated 5 out of 5-stars for difficulty.

This post idea originated on the Materials Education Facebook page (via our sister organization MatEdU).