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

iMakerSpace Creates Innovation and Entrepreneurship Culture at Tennessee Tech University

Many colleges and universities work to create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) among students. Teaching either concept can be an esoteric pursuit, full of buzzwords and hard-to-implement ideas, but after making the decision to drive a new approach to I&E, Tennessee Tech University (TTU) immediately won a competition to be one of the first cohorts in the National Science Foundation Pathways to Innovation Program run by Epicenter and directed by Stanford University and VentureWell (formerly NCIIA).

The effort of this Pathways team led to the launch of the EagleWorks student competition and the iMakerSpace, as well as providing a model for many schools to follow – by combining a range of resources and access points. Under the leadership of both the Colleges of Engineering and Business, the TTU iMakerSpace serves as a central location on campus to provide training, service, partnership, research and evaluation in Innovation and Entrepreneurship to all disciplines.

“In today’s economy, it is imperative for all students to acquire an entrepreneurial mindset. College graduates need to enter the workforce skilled in assessing complex problems, conceiving innovative solutions and developing scalable solutions, whether they join a company or non-profit organization or start a new venture,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-leader of the University Innovation Fellows program for Epicenter.

iMakerSpace supports NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The space hosts an Internet of Things Platform for Engineering Education and Research known as IoT PEER. Thanks to the College of Engineering, via the iMakerSpace, the IoT testbed has become an area of collaborative innovation and interdisciplinary research.

If you have heard of the Lean Startup concept, then the Tenn Tech I-Corps is worth checking out. The Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Sites is a NSF-funded entity established at universities to nurture and support multiple, local teams as they transition their technology concepts into the marketplace.

Engineering students who have been working on projects under the NSF-funded AM-WATCH program, TTU NSF I-Corps Site,  and the Additive Manufacturing Studio are regular users of the iMakerSpace facility (housed within the TTU library).

The above mentioned programs are only a handful of the many ways that TTU is focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship for its students. Through partnerships, such as the Epicenter, the Colleges of Business and Engineering, and the Biz Foundry, a nonprofit focused on building entrepreneurs and innovators in the region; TTU is showing how to make STEM an essential and real-world practical part of education.

Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series at Tennessee Tech University

Tennessee Tech University (TTU), over the last 5 semesters, has planned and delivered the “TED Talks of Additive Manufacturing,” says Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology. The series, known as the “Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series” is delivered via Zoom, a web video conferencing platform.

NOTE: If you or your students are looking for the most current 3D technology and the opportunity it presents, sign up for the web-based lectures on 3D printing here. Full text details on the webinars are at the end of this post.

The lecture series has trained 500-plus people from all over the world, from Africa to Europe to North America, on a wide variety of timely, hot Additive Manufacturing (AM) topics. These talks are aimed at AM industry professionals as well as STEM educators. If you have been looking for on-point, deeper talks about Additive Manufacturing, keep tabs on what Dr. Fidan and his team are doing at Tennessee Tech University.

The lectures are offered through the iMakerSpace, which was established as a university-wide, student-centered space under the leadership of the Colleges of Engineering and Business. It serves as a focal point on campus to provide training, service, partnership, research and evaluation in Innovation and Entrepreneurship to all disciplines. It also encourages interdisciplinary teams and provides support and training to extend Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) activities into research and the classroom.

AM WATCH is an ATE funded project focused on the skills AM technicians need to know.  The AM Studios provide STEM educators with the education/training/exposure to 3D that they can integrate into their current programs.

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Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series SPRING 2018

  • February 22: Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing: enabling 10-meter metal parts with Filomeno Martina, Ph.D., WAAMMat Program Manager Welding Engineering and Laser Processing Center, Cranfield University, UK
  • March 1: Free and Easy Software for Designing for 3–D Printing with Timothy Gornet, Manager of the Operations Rapid Prototyping Center, University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • March 29: 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 Somerset Community College, Kentucky
  • April 19: Dental 3–D Printing Overview with Frank Alifui-Segbaya, Program Director for Bachelor of Dental Technology School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Griffith University, Australia