SUNY New Paltz partners with high school to make 3D printing a reality for students

SUNY New Paltz recently provided two MakerBot 3D printers, on extended loan, to New Paltz High School in hopes of enhancing the hands-on experience students and faculty will have with the cutting-edge technology.

“We are thrilled at SUNY New Paltz to be able to partner with the excellent faculty at New Paltz High School to explore ways that 3D printing can be integrated into K-12 education,” said Dan Freedman, dean of the School of Science and Engineering and director of the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz.

Because 3D printers can produce virtually any shape that can be designed, and can do so with inexpensive materials, the technology is a natural fit for prototyping—a focus of computer graphics and engineering classes at New Paltz High School.

“This technology brings the ability for our students to be able to see, touch, and refine their 3D modeling design solutions, as well as encourage more interest and expertise in 3D modeling, design, and engineering,” said teacher Jennifer Cone. “We have already printed some bottle designs and will be doing more 3D projects in areas of product and graphic design.”

Other ways of integrating the technology are in the works too.

SUNY New Paltz Assistant Professor (Art Education) Aaron Knochel is interested in bringing high schoolers and college students together to work on 3D-related projects.

“Right now, we are in conversations about hosting high school students in my Learning in Digital Visual Cultures course to create team learning opportunities between university Art Education students and New Paltz High School students. We hope this can build into a fieldwork opportunity for Art Ed students if we can arrange to visit the high school as well,” said Knochel, who noted the technology will fundamentally change how work is done in many fields such as art, engineering, and science.

“Digital fabrication technologies like 3D printing present opportunities to design and engineer in the capacity of leading industry practitioners,” he said.  “Rapid prototyping and iterative design practices are important to future design practice and these technologies create design environments where this is possible. On a more basic level the technology is grabbing students’ attention,” explained Knochel, “and introducing them to thinking in 3D may impact their trajectory in future education.”

For New Paltz High School sophomore Darren Tsai the future is top of mind. “I’m looking at going to college for either mechanical/electrical engineering or computer science,” he said. “I am convinced that 3D will become a major tool in every sector of engineering and design, and having hands-on experience with this technology now will help prepare me for a future career.”

Beyond just providing these machines, the digital fabrication initiative at SUNY New Paltz is about keeping our curriculum relevant and innovative, developing unique partnerships with private industry that can benefit both parties, and seeking opportunities for community-based regional partnerships,” said Knochel. “Supporting the intellectual growth and facility enhancement of regional school systems is ultimately an investment in the excellence of future New Paltz students.”

About the 3D Printing Initiative at SUNY New Paltz
SUNY New Paltz’s 3D Printing Initiative integrates the college’s strengths in engineering, computer science, technology, and the innovation and creativity of the arts. The organizational home of this effort is the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz. Launched in May 2013, the center brings state-of-the-art 3D printing equipment to the region and a curriculum in Digital Design and Fabrication, giving rise to powerful forces—art and technology, creativity and ingenuity. Additional elements of the initiative include: active recruitment of 3D printing enterprises, with access to venture capital funds and potential for participation in the Governor’s Start-Up NY tax incentive program; and a network of equipment access and collaborative educational programming at Hudson Valley community colleges and select high schools to expand 3D printing capability in the region. In December 2013, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded the initiative $1M in state economic development funds. And in February 2014, the College partnered with Brooklyn, N.Y. – based MakerBot, the leading manufacturer of desktop 3D printers, to open the nation’s first MakerBot Innovation Center at SUNY New Paltz.