SCC receives second NSF Grant for Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform

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Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform Team (Left to Right): Elaine Kohrman, Director of Grants, SCC; Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering-Faculty Fellow in Innovation and Techno-Entrepreneurship at Tennessee Technological University; Eric Wooldridge, SCC professor and director of AMCOE.

Somerset Community College's (SCC) Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCOE) is excited to announce its National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) grant award for the Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform for the 21st Century STEM Workforce Enhancement (Mobile AMP) to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is changing many aspects of manufacturing, medicine, consumer expectations, and even education, and SCC is proud to be at the forefront of this change. As international companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP), Ford, Airbus, General Electric (GE), Johnson & Johnson, Dupont, and BASF transition to manufacturing 3D printing equipment, products, and materials, we are seeing the beginning of the coming additive manufacturing revolution.

However, from their previous work, SCC additive manufacturing faculty quickly noticed the additive manufacturing skills gap becoming wider within Kentucky's workforce because many schools, and even companies, were using hobby-level 3D printing equipment in their classrooms and workspaces. SCC also noted that many schools were using 3D printers to only make "keychains and trinkets" and were not utilizing this revolutionary technology to its true potential.

The problem is that educators and businesses don't realize that additive manufacturing's true strength is in making next-generation products, the things that could not previously be fabricated using conventional manufacturing technologies because of the complexity of their design," Professor Eric Wooldridge, a professional engineer and director of the AMCOE, stated. "Additive manufacturing's power is in the freedom for designers to reimagine and reengineer products to be lightweight, have internal moving parts and complex organic shaping, and utilize new advance materials. We can now make things that we always knew would be the best solutions but were told that we can't manufacture them because of the limits of the technology at the time. Now 3D printing means we can. That is why companies like Honeywell, GE, Boeing, Proctor & Gamble, BMS, and their competitors are transitioning to additive manufacturing."

The goal of this grant is to take the advanced additive manufacturing technology that SCC employs on a daily basis on the road and bring it directly to teachers and businesses. The Mobile AMP project will provide in-depth training on advanced design for 3D printing using cutting edge software and industrial-level additive manufacturing equipment.

As part of a multi-state outreach partnership with Tennessee Technological University (TTU), SCC will build a trailer and a mobile education system that will allow for the transport and on-site set up of advanced additive manufacturing equipment -- including powder-, resin- and metal sintering based 3D printing technologies. This will allow students, teachers, and manufacturing professionals to receive hands-on training with advanced equipment and materials.

The grant will also allow SCC and TTU to provide training in advanced design technologies in use by companies like HP, Ford and NASA JPL. In partnership with Autodesk, SCC and TTU will train participants in Generative Design using Fusion 360, as well as other applications that are key elements to creating next-generation products.

"At the end of the three years of the NSF-funded Mobile AMP project, we expect a complete 180 degree turnaround in how 3D printing is taught and utilized across Kentucky and Tennessee," Wooldridge stated. "And it will be a signal to all the manufacturing companies out there that this is the place to bring their advanced manufacturing work. That we have the technology and the people with the fundamental skills to make next-generation products that companies and consumers want, as well as homegrown startup innovations."

For more information on SCC's Additive Manufacturing/3D printing and offers additional training through the college's Workforce Solutions program. To find out more about SCC's additive manufacturing/3D printing program, contact Wooldridge at eric.wooldridge@kctcs.edu.

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