Engineering Technology students are benefiting from new 3D printing technology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Faculty members say the advanced technology could rival top-ranked research universities.

“The 3D printer is a cutting-edge technology which is becoming a most wanted teaching tool at universities to enhance the teaching process of the instructor and the learning experience of the students,” said Assistant Professor Jagadeep Thota. “With the 3D printer, students can experience this advanced technology firsthand and fabricate intricate parts, giving them a more hands-on approach while completing their design projects.”

The 3D printing process is used to synthesize three-dimensional items in which consecutive layers of material are formed under computer control. Items can be almost any shape and are made using digital model data. The layers are made out of a biodegradable thermo polymer.

Thota and Assistant Professor Ryan Holzem, with input from faculty members Md Maruf Hossain, Mohammad Mahfuz and David Yan, were awarded the printers after submitting a short proposal to the Dremel #LearnMakeGive national competition describing the positive impact a 3D printer would have on the Engineering Technology students.

“3D printers will go a long way for the new Engineering Technology program and lab infrastructure at UW-Green Bay,” said Thota. “Personally, my goal is to graduate Engineering Technology majors from UW-Green Bay who are on par with their peers from top-ranked universities in the nation.”

Two Engineering Technology courses will use the 3D printers. In ET 207 Parametric Modeling II, students will be printing a mechanical component from their final computer-aided design (CAD) 3D model projects. In ET 322 Design Problems, students will design and print parts for an engine crane for their final project. In addition, the 3D printers will be used by the UW-Green Bay Engineering Club student chapter for various projects and activities.

The Engineering Technology department is currently seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. The first students to complete the program are expected to graduate in May 2017, allowing the accreditation process to begin.

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