ECU engineering students Amber Lyerly, above, and Angel Chukwu use 3-D printing as part of their education.
3D printing merges art, engineering
Amber Lyerly’s tablet plays a video of a water pump she designed and built submerged in a tank spewing water like any heavy-duty industrial machine would.
But in her hand is the same pump, made of plastic in a few hours using a 3D printer in the Science and Technology Building at East Carolina University.
“You can make anything and test anything,” the senior mechanical engineering major said of 3D printing, known more precisely as additive manufacturing. And she’s taken her pump with her to interviews for internships and jobs, and landed an internship last summer at Hayward Pools.
“A lot of jobs I’ve been applying for, they want additive-manufacturing experience,” she said.
The opening of a new MakerBot 3D design and prototyping facility at ECU is a tangible sign the technology is a valuable educational tool.
“It’s a magnet for middle- and high-school kids,” said Ed Howard, associate professor of engineering at ECU.
Ira Varney, an art teacher at South Central High School in Winterville whose classes include 3D printing and computerized machining, was at the opening of the ECU MakerBot lab. He said technologies such as 3D printing get students interested in design, manufacturing and engineering, showing them they can have a career that challenges and rewards their creativity.
“They can find their pathways better,” Varney said. “It’s fun. That’s the kind of job you want, so you never work a day in your life.”
ECU sophomore mechanical engineering student Angel Chukwu of Clayton, a member of the ECU Honors College, described her major the same way.
“It’s like putting art and science together, and it’s fun,” she said.
Lyerly also said the chance that students from various disciplines might work together on 3D-printed products – one way the new MakerBot lab is envisioned to work – is enticing.
“If engineering and the business majors would come together and do a capstone project, I think some really cool stuff would come out of it,” she said.
Pictured below enjoying the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new lab are, left to right, T.D. Goodwin employee Dan Kallweit; Tommy Goodwin; ECU Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Rick Niswander; ECU Provost Ron Mitchelson, Wayne Godwin, ECU art professor and director of the innovation design lab; Charles Overton; Ted Morris, ECU associate vice chancellor for engagement, innovation and development; Parker Overton; David Fountain and Millie Chalk of Duke Energy.