Remote Lab-Sharing Models for Additive Manufacturing Skills Training
Additive manufacturing, which is also known as 3D printing, is transforming the nation's manufacturing industry. A diverse and highly-skilled workforce is needed to support the economic growth in this area of manufacturing. To help address his need, Mohawk Valley Community College will partner with two colleges to develop a new training model for manufacturing technicians. These partners will develop courses that cover the most advanced technologies in this field, including metal 3D printing. The project team will partner with local industries to ensure that the courses contain the knowledge and skills desired for the workforce. The courses will include the use of remotely-shared 3D printing equipment for student design projects. The remote lab equipment will represent a model for colleges across the country to prepare students with the necessary skills, even if the colleges have limited budgets to purchase their own equipment. This model will reduce cost barriers for institutions and help increase the number of technicians that can be trained. The training model will provide options for current workers who want to upgrade their skills. The project will also create introductory courses for secondary school students, who will also be able to use the remotely-shared 3D printing equipment.
This project seeks to increase the number of skilled technicians in additive manufacturing design processes, with a special focus on metal 3D printing. The goals include: the development of a one-semester, 18-credit curriculum comprised of five courses that cover modeling, materials, and additive manufacturing topics; the development of a remote lab-sharing model for the curriculum that will be tested with the partner institutions, Finger Lakes Community College and Western Technical College; and research on the efficacy of the curriculum on student outcomes when used in local-lab versus remote-lab learning environments. Students at the partnering institutions will be able to remotely access the lab equipment to print prototypes, which will then be shipped back to their campuses. The curriculum will be designed for either seamless integration into existing two-year engineering technology programs or as a standalone microcredential option for incumbent workers. Dual-credit high school courses and mini modules for existing high school courses will also be developed and implemented. An emphasis of this project will be on engaging and recruiting students from underrepresented populations to promote their interest in manufacturing careers and broaden participation in the technician workforce. Course materials, project results, and best practices will be widely disseminated to encourage the adoption or adaptation of the approach by other colleges and institutions across the country.