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Thinking in 3D about 3D printers

WiseDesk Sometime this weekend, my office space was invaded by owls–lots of them.  On the keyboard, the bookshelf, the top of the cubical wall,  and on piles of paperwork, but I was thrilled with the Monday morning leavings.   Months ago I had started imagining owls, and after telling a co-worker  we even researched owls together.  The more we learned, the more people we wanted to talk to, and our imaginings solidified as we added more possibilities along the way.

“She’s crazy as a loon,” you may be thinking.  In fact, imagining the owls was a smart use of existing resources to solve a common problem that had Mark DeLonge and I  stymied–creating a thank you for a diverse group of intrinsically motivated faculty who had shared their teaching wisdom in our second annual 4 x 4 x 16 Blog Challenge.  Budget not included, of course.  Touring an instructor around NMC’s student maker space, the idea was hatched.  Why not use what we have to showcase examples of ideas-to-action?

Using the 3D printer highlighted some unexpected outcomes to people and relationships not often mentioned in articles about using new technologies.  Yet, these benefits are often image of 3D NMC Hawk Owlmentioned as missing in college grads following traditional paths.

  1. D for (trans)Discipline:  Through the design and creation of our NMC Hawk Owl miniatures, everyone involved interacted with and learned more about other disciplines in the college.  Passing along links to see examples, visiting other college spaces, and asking for feedback led to many discussions about how the new 3D printer technology possibilities are clearly interdisciplinary.
  2. D for (multi-)Department:  Using the 3D printer to make our NMC Hawk Owl miniatures put us in a collaborative, working relationship with departments outside of our normal workflow.   Having a common goal and shared outcomes made sharing resources smooth.
    • The Center for Instructional Excellence purchased the fiber –>
    • Used to print the owls on the Engineering Tech’s printer–>
    • Managed by an NMC student–>
    • Housed in Technical Division’s MakerSpace –>
    • To support the writing done by NMC instructors –>
    • For the Teaching@nmc.edu website maintained by the Educational Media Department.
  3. D for Dynamic AND Done:  3D printers allow real-time feedback and design changes.  The first iteration was missing a large enough base for a logo.  The second iteration had a base and a logo, but it was hard to read.  Minutes later, version three has a base with our logo.  Total materials cost for the trial and error process?  Less than a dollar.

Interested in trying something for your own area?  Come on over to NMC’s maker space in the Parson-Stulens Building and get started!

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