Additive Manufacturing

MAY 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 36 of 43

AM / Additive Manufacturing Goes to College 35 GE Aviation, is playing an outsized role in Auburn Univer- sity's strategy and investment in AM education. When GE was looking to ramp up its aviation operations in the region in 2014, the company sent representatives to speak with top administration and faculty from Auburn's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. GE wanted to augment its domestic additive manufacturing capabilities and was leaning toward utilizing its existing GE Aviation plant in the city of Auburn—which was itself only a few years old and still underutilized—rather than building a new plant elsewhere. Overfelt says that the compa- ny's pitch to the university was straightforward and direct. "GE said early on, 'Look guys, we know how universities work,'" Overfelt recalls. "'We know faculty want to do research, and we do too. But right now, our number one priority in Au- burn, Alabama is to stand up this manufacturing plant. We're going to start adding additive manufacturing machines to this plant as we go, and workforce development is our number one concern. The wicket that you need to get through to access anything else that you might be interested in doing with GE is workforce development. You help us there, doors will start opening.' They said that loud and clear." Over the next several months in 2015, Overfelt and other Auburn representatives—both from the university and the city— drafted a plan. At the time, the university was minimally invested in additive education, having only a couple of small FDM 3D printers housed within the engineering college but no coordinat- ed additive program. What the university did have, however, was experienced professors like Overfelt and Dr. Bart Prorok, professor of materials engineering and director of Auburn's Analytical Microscopy Center. Using their decades of teaching experience, Overfelt and Prorok sought to avoid the fate of many new aca- demic curriculum proposals: a slow death by committee. (More on that later.) In the meantime, Overfelt and Prorok helped the college secure a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Tech- nology (NIST) to research AM technologies and help smaller manufacturers with high-volume production of metal parts. In June of 2016, soon after Auburn announced the creation of its Center for Industrial- ized Additive Manufacturing, GE selected Auburn as one of eight universities worldwide to participate in the GE Additive Education Program. In its proposal to GE, Auburn made a commitment that its first priority would be workforce devel- opment, and GE awarded the university a new Concept Laser MLab 100R metal printer. By that time, Auburn had purchased two metal additive machines, a Renishaw AM250 and an EOS M290—machines that were on par with what GE Aviation was using at its Auburn plant at the time—and had hired two new faculty members to teach and provide research in metal additive technologies. Having secured these assets, in 2016 the university established its new Center for Industrialized Additive Manu- facturing, and named Tony Overfelt, whose official title is the William and Elizabeth Reed Professor of Mechanical Engineer- ing, as its founding director. With GE Aviation 3D printing its LEAP fuel nozzles only a few miles away, Alabama had more additive manufacturing capacity than most countries, and Au- burn University was making a commitment to ensure that that capacity was supplied with a highly skilled workforce. But a central question remained: Considering the rapid developments within AM, what does a higher-ed additive pro- gram look like? Do current AM workforce needs merit a college major? A minor? The Birth of a Program There are two core factors that are informing higher educa- tion's role in additive manufacturing today. The first is that, by and large, American universities are bureaucracy-laden institutions that exhibit a glacial pace of change. Most universi- ties require that new academic program ideas be run through Auburn University recently added a Certificate of Additive Manufacturing to its offerings within its Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. The college, Auburn's largest, features 10 academic programs and eight minors, with more than 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

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