FACS can now incorporate 3-D printing into the textiles, merchandising and interiors curriculum thanks to the Anne Sweaney Innovation Fund.
The award will cover the costs of software, a new 3-D scanner and printer upgrades to the department’s existing printer, effectively empowering students to design and produce tangible products.
These 3-D printing materials will be incorporated into the syllabi of TXMI 3500 and TXMI 4160, two classes that focus on the manufacturing and properties of textiles as well as product development.
Adding this technology in the classroom will not only differentiate these TMI courses from other universities around the country, but provide benefits to faculty and students alike, said associate professor Suraj Sharma.
“Adding a 3-D printing component to courses will provide instructors a new method to increase student engagement in the learning process,” said Jeff Morgan, a graduate student in TMI who assisted Sharma with the grant application. “Allowing students to create and produce items related to the learning material can be viewed as a new form of high-impact practice similar to student research or service learning.”
As an example of the expanded opportunities the grant will allow, Morgan noted that students in the product development class can currently make a product, but not a prototype.
“Addition of 3-D printing will allow to them to make prototypes of products,” he said.
Faculty members may also utilize 3-D printers to create models of concepts like polymer production to demonstrate during lectures.
The increasing presence of 3-D printing in the textiles industry has prompted a shift in the way products are manufactured, Morgan said.
“The trend is moving from large scale, time-intensive production to a quick, ‘make as needed’ manufacturing model,” he said. “Curricula need to be at the forefront of this wave by giving students the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to use 3-D printing in pursuit of their goals.”
Established in 2012 upon Sweaney’s retirement after more than 30 years of service to the college, the endowment provides funds to support faculty and students’ current projects and programs as well as new programs created to meet emerging needs.
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