Free Online Course to Help Accelerate 3D Printing Skills – Campus Technology

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Free online course to help accelerate 3D printing skills

SUNY Canton Professor Matthew Burnett holds up a piece of a face shield he printed in his own studio.

Canton of the State University of New York (SUNY) Professor Matthew Burnett has made face shield components to help medical staff protect themselves against COVID-19 as they deal with a deluge of patients in this condition. Like many 3D printing enthusiasts, Burnett heard about the need for personal protective equipment at area hospitals and immediately set up printers to produce components.

“As hospitals across New York State face shortages of critical equipment for this crisis, manufacturers across the state have tuned in and asked how they can best help,” Burnett said in a article on campus on the work.

As a participant in the Upstate New York 3D Printing Network, Burnett and his fellow 3D enthusiasts are responding to requests from at least 10 different medical affiliates in upstate New York, who need some 1,500 units. The graphic and multimedia design instructor said he alone has made more than 150 visors since March 21.

Some of the 3D printed components for medical face shields made by SUNY Canton graphic and multimedia design professor Matthew Burnett.

Some of the 3D printed components for medical face shields made by SUNY Canton graphic and multimedia design professor Matthew Burnett.

To build capacity and expertise worldwide, Burnett, who has been teaching in online and hybrid formats for 13 years, has begun offering free weekly instruction via Zoom for those interested in 3D modeling and printing. While the first class drew a dozen people, interest grew, he said.

Having an actual 3D printer is optional at this point. “Early lessons will focus only on modeling. Later lessons will discuss the printing parts of the process,” Burnett noted. While the lessons cover “complementary skills in [and] on their own,” the cumulative outcome is intended to help learners develop CAD knowledge for 3D printing. Basic skills can also be used for graphic design, project modeling, building information modeling for architecture and interior design.

While the lessons don’t specifically cover how to 3D print equipment for healthcare workers, they are intended to teach “hands-on skills remotely for our 21st century needs,” Burnett said. “Now seemed like the perfect time to ramp up general CAD skills for friends and family. [With] so many people stuck on their premises, now is a good time to focus on skills with free resources available to everyone.”

Burnett has a particular interest in combining faculty and international students to tackle cooperative projects. In 2018, he worked with Associate Professor Bridget Benson, a member of the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, on a joint engineering and arts education project. “Convergence”, as it was called, involved an international effort to design and 3D print one hundred miniature ships lit by smart LEDs that floated down a river with two different colors, eventually mixing and changing to the same color more downstream when they reach the designated coordinates.

3D-printed LED-lit ships floating on the Grasse River in upstate New York.  When they reached a particular location, they automatically changed color to green.

3D-printed LED-lit ships floating on the Grasse River in upstate New York. When they reached a particular location, they automatically changed color to green. Source: Matt Burnett and Andrew Randall

“Even though we have been socially distanced by this crisis, we have technology that allows us to stay productive and connected,” Burnett observed. “It’s a good time for individual study, and I’m thinking of many people who can benefit from it: kids who have been cut off from school and crave stimulation; beginners who have been curious about 3D printing and design and never had the time; and, of course, I relish any chance to improve my communication and online teaching pedagogy.”

The course runs weekly from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesdays via Zoom. For more information, email Burnett directly at [email protected].

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former editor for educational publications at 1105 Media, THE Journal, Campus Technology, and Spaces4Learning.